Two experienced sailors set out from the Solomon Islands on Sept. 2, to sail the 200 kilometers to their destination, but storms turned their voyage into a nightmare that lasted 29 days.
Shortly after the voyage began, clouds announced changing weather conditions, and in the stormy weather the sailors, Livae Nanjikana and Junior Qoloni, lost sight of the islands that served as their landmarks on either side, The Guardian reported on Sept. 8.
The next resort they turned to was the Global Positioning System, (GPS) which broke down almost immediately, leaving them stranded in their small fiberglass boat powered by a 60-horsepower engine.
“When the bad weather came, it was bad, but it was worse and became scary when the GPS died,” Nanjikana described.
Faced with this situation they decided to shut down the engine to save fuel, and when they regained visibility they discovered they were lost.
So while they searched for signs of land they consumed the oranges they carried with them for nine days, and once they were exhausted their ration was reduced to coconuts that appeared floating nearby and to reach them they started the engine.
To obtain freshwater they managed to collect it with a tarpaulin. Then they devised a kind of frame that held canvas as sails to propel their small ship.
Finally, they spotted an island and another small canoe driven by a fisherman to whom they signaled, but he passed them by. At that moment they started the engine to follow him and that was when the fuel ran out.
They then shouted and waved frantically at him, whereupon the good man paddled up to them and, seeing the state they were in, towed them to the island. Once there other islanders helped ferry them to the house of the man who had since become their host.
“The fisherman was a nice man. When we reached land, our bodies felt weak so we were carried by men to the house. We were later fed with good foods such as taro, pawpaw and other vegetables which made us regain our strength,” Nanjikana said, according to local media PNG Attitude.
He added: “We didn’t know where we were but did not expect to be in another country,” Nanjikana said when he learned that he had arrived in Papua New Guinea 400 kilometers from his port of departure.
“I look forward to going back home but I guess it was a nice break from everything,” he added, as Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade chief of staff Mary Walenenea, based in Papua New Guinea, tried to get them home.
Apparently, “one thing that kept the two men going was a strong and positive state of mind, hope and faith in God. They indeed beat incredible odds,” wrote PNG Attitude.