CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A man whose family says he was missing at sea for more than two months is back on dry land and reuniting with his family.
The crew of a German-flagged container ship found Louis Jordan floating Thursday afternoon on the overturned hull of his 35-foot sailboat, about 200 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras.
A Coast Guard helicopter crew from North Carolina airlifted Jordan from the tanker to a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, on Thursday night, where he was recovering from a shoulder injury and dehydration.
Jordan, 37, had been living on his sailboat at a marina in Conway, South Carolina, until January, when he told his family he was “going into the open water to sail and do some fishing,” said his mother, Norma Davis. He sailed out of the marina on Jan. 23, Coast Guard officials said, and had not been heard from him since.
Shortly after midnight today, Jordan spoke with reporters at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Jordan, who described himself as an inexperienced sailor, said the two months he spent stranded seemed like much longer and that he begged he begged God for water, to send rain, and rationed his food and energy, according to WAVY-TV in Portsmouth.
“I rationed my water to where I had drunk about a pint a day. For such a long a time I was so thirsty. And I was almost out of water, and everyday I was like please God send me some rain, send me some water. Begging God, please,” he said in the WAVY interview. “And finally right before I ran out of water, finally the conditions were perfect.
Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss said Coast Guard officials were trying to determine where Jordan capsized and other details of his time at sea. He said Jordan did say that he had eaten fish that he caught.
Jordan told the television station his boat capsized after being struck by a large wave in rough weather, disabling his electronics. He was still drifting Thursday when he spotted the tanker.
“I saw a bigger boat and it had its back to me or front to me as far as I could tell and I waved my hands real slowly, and that’s the signal ‘I’m in distress help me.’ I blew my whistles. I had three whistles. They never heard them,” Jordan told WAVY. “I turned my American flag upside down and put that up. That says, ‘rescue me.’ They never saw it. All they saw was this [hands].”
Records show that Jordan sailed out of the marina in Conway, on Jan. 23, aboard the sailboat Angel, said Marilyn Fajardo, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard’s 7th District. Fajardo said the Coast Guard in Miami was notified by his father, Frank Jordan, on Jan. 29 that he hadn’t seen or heard from his son in a week. One week later, Davis said their son was still missing.
Fajardo said alerts were issued from New Jersey to Miami to be on the lookout for Jordan and his sailboat. Officials also searched financial data to determine whether Jordan actually had come ashore without being noticed, but found no indication that he had, she said.
A search was begun on Feb. 8, but Fajardo said the Coast Guard abandoned its efforts after 10 days. Despite reports from other sailors claiming to have seen Jordan’s sailboat, none of the sightings were confirmed and the case was suspended. The Coast Guard said Jordan didn’t file a “float plan,” the nautical equivalent of a flight plan, to determine his route or destination, and Fajardo said there wasn’t enough information to narrow down his whereabouts.
“We’re elated that he survived. We were never able to determine where he was headed,” Doss said. “Without that as part of the equation, it was difficult to come up with a search area.”
Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Krystyn Pecora said Jordan had a shoulder injury. Frank Jordan said his son also was dehydrated from his ordeal.