Spotted by a passing German container ship, American, Louis Jordan, 37, spent the last 66 days adrift in open water after his sailboat capsized in late January.
According to reports Jordan lost his mast in a storm, an event that also damaged his onboard communication equipment. He claims to have survived on sparsely rationed rainwater and by catching fish.
"For such a long time I was so thirsty,” Jordan told WAVY-TV. "Every day I was like ‘Please God, send me some rain, send me some water.'"
Jordan told his rescuers he had all but given up hope, and did not believe the German ship was real when he first spotted it.
“I waved my hands real slowly, and that’s the signal: ‘I’m in distress help me,’” Jordan said. “I blew my whistles. I had three whistles. They never heard them. I turned my American flag upside down and put that up."
Jordan was airlifted to Norfolk, Virginia, by a Coast Guard aircrew, and aside from dehydration and a shoulder injury is said to be in good health and able to stand under his own power.
Though it is not known what caused the capsizing, or when, records at his homeport, the Bucksport Plantation marina in South Carolina, show that Jordan had been living on and repairing the single-masted sailboat from the 1950s.
Jeff Weeks, the marina's manager told The Guardian that Jordan spent months sanding and painting the small craft, and often fished in the nearby inland waterways. Weeks however suspects the ill-fated trip was Jordan's first in open water.
Jordan did not file a float plan prior to leaving the docks on January 23, and was reported missing a week later. Marine alerts were issued from New Jersey to Miami and a fruitless, 10-day Coast Guard search was launched in early February.
“We don’t know where he capsized. We won’t really know what happened to him out there until we talk to him at length,” said coastguard chief petty officer Ryan Doss.
When Coast Guard crews plucked him out of the Atlantic he was some 200 miles off the coast of North Carolina.
“We do plan on having a wonderful Easter celebration with family," said Jordan's mother. "I can’t wait to get him back.”
Cover photo: Louis Jordan, second from the left, is pictured with members of the Coast Guard aircrew. Via Steve Early/AP.