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10 People Who Were Lost at Sea for Months and Survived

These 10 people survived the impossible: being lost at sea for months with no food, no water and little equipment. It's "Life of Pi," without the tigers.


The sea is a beautiful and fascinating place, but it can also be utterly terrifying. The ocean is vast, and when you are drifting with no idea where you are, it can be a very, very lonely place. The following 10 people got lost at sea for months, but they defied the odds and managed to survive.


1. Steven Callahan

Photo Credit: Flickr, North Yarmouth Academy

Steven Callahan was lost at sea for 76 days, and in that time he drifted all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. Callahan was sailing from Europe to Antigua when he encountered a storm, and possibly a whale, that tore a huge hole in his boat. He managed to collect enough emergency supplies and make it onto his life raft, where he would drift for the next two and a half months.

Callahan managed to avoid starvation, dehydration and sharks for just long enough to be rescued. Some sailors near Guadalupe spotted him and brought him to the hospital. He had lost a third of his weight, but he made a full recovery.


2. Maurice and Maralyn Bailey


The Baileys were lost at sea for 117 days. They had been planning to sail on their yacht all the way from England to their new home in New Zealand. They made it through the Panama Canal and past the Galapagos Islands without issues. Then, a whale hit their yacht, making a huge hole that caused it to sink. The couple made it onto a rubber dinghy with some flares and some food, but only enough for a few days.

The Baileys had to survive on rainwater and wild birds, fish and turtles. They attempted to signal seven passing ships, but none saw them. They finally got lucky when crew members of a passing Korean ship spotted them in the water, 1,450 miles from where their yacht had sunk.

The couple's experience did not deter them from setting sail again. They built a new yacht and took several more long voyages all around the world.


3. The Crew of the Rose Noelle

The crew of the Rose Noelle had four members: John Glennie, Rick Hellriegel, Jim Nalepka and Phil Hofman. They were stranded at sea for 119 days.

The four friends were planning to sale from their home in New Zealand to the island of Tonga, about 1,500 miles away. But three days after they left, a massive wave capsized their yacht. Fortunately, the boat did not sink. They were able to make a tiny livable space in one of the cabins, even though the yacht was upside-down.

They survived by diving underwater to retrieve supplies from other parts of the yacht, and then by catching rainwater and fish. By another stroke of luck, the current kept them relatively close to the north island of New Zealand, and finally pushed them onto a sandy beach on the east side of the island.


4. Poon Lim


Poon Lim on his raft. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia, Public Domain)

Chinese sailor Poon Lim holds the world record for longest survival on a life raft: 133 days. Lim was aboard a British merchant vessel traveling from Cape Town to New York in November 1942. The ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat a few hundred miles off the coast of Brazil, and Lim was the only survivor.

Saved by his lifejacket, Lim managed to get aboard a wooden life raft that already had some water, food and flares. After a month of being lost at sea, he ran out of food and water after and had to survive by collecting rainwater and catching fish and birds. He even caught a shark and drank blood from its liver to avoid dying of thirst.

Lim eventually drifted so close to shore that he crossed paths with a small sailboat, and its three-man crew took him aboard. Amazingly, Lim lost only 20 pounds throughout the entire ordeal, and was able to walk on his own when he was rescued.


5. José Salvador Alvarenga

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Jose Salvador Alvarenga holds the record for the longest solo survival at sea: 438 days. Alvarenga departed from the west coast of Mexico on a fishing trip with one crew mate in November 2012. The pair's small boat was thrown off course by a storm shortly after. Their GPS, motor and radio all failed. They found themselves lost at sea with no idea how to get home.

The men survived on fish and turtle blood. At one point they even hauled in a floating trash bag and drank the sour milk they found inside it. After about two months, Alvarenga's crewmate gave up hope, stopped eating and died. Alvarenga was on his own.

Alvarenga continued to drift on his own for nearly a year, until he finally spotted a tiny island within swimming distance. It was one of the Marshall Islands, which are basically in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Ocean. Alvarenga jumped ship and swam to the island, where he finally found help. He had travelled over 6,700 miles.


6. Oguri Jukichi

Finally, there is Oguri Jukichi, who holds the world record for the longest time adrift at sea: 484 days. Captain Jukichi and his crew got lost at sea way back in the year 1813. They were transporting soy beans to present-day Tokyo when the ship encountered a violent storm, which set them adrift.

The crew had to survive on rainwater and the soybeans they had in the cargo hold. Although they had plenty of soybeans, the crew members began suffering from scurvy after several months. One by one, crew members died, until there were only three left: Jukichi, and two men named Otokichi and Hanbe.

The three men were finally rescued by a British ship off the coast of California. They had travelled 5,400 miles. It is believed that these three were the first Japanese people to set foot in America.

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