There’s no doubt about it – fishing is a dangerous game. Add boats into the equation and the risks are magnified.
So next time you grab your sea fishing rod and head out onto the water – bear in mind the experiences of these fishermen – and make sure you pack all the safety gear you can muster.
Australian Kim Thomsen, his nephew and his nephew’s friend, were fishing from a small boat off the coast of Leeman, 200 miles north of the Australian city of Perth. A rogue wave capsized their boat, turning their fishing trip to tragedy. Thomsen survived for nearly 24 hours in the water.
Circled by hammerhead sharks, he was floating stark naked when he was spotted by a news helicopter following the rescue effort. Sadly he turned out to be the only survivor. One of the other fishermen was found unconscious but died later in hospital, the other was never found.
25 days in a box
Two Burmese fishermen spent an incredible 25 days, drifting in shark infested waters – in an ice box. The men were the only survivors of the break up and disintegration of their fishing boat in bad weather off the coast of Northern Australia. The men managed to clamber into an empty ice box, but had to watch helpless as the other 18 members of the crew perished.
The fishermen survived by drinking rain water and eating old fish from the bottom of the box. They were eventually rescued after they were spotted by a routine patrol plane from Australia – an extraordinary stroke of good fortune considering the immensity of the sea area in which they were adrift in.
Raw fish diet
Eat enough raw fish and the salt content of the flesh will make your tongue swell up. That was the experience of four men who drifted for 32 days in an open boat on the Pacific Ocean. The men set out for a day’s fishing, from their home on the island of Kiribati, in an 18 foot wooden banana boat. Strong winds and currents carried them out to sea – where they ran out of petrol. Despite spotting several other boats – they never got close enough to ask for help.
Eventually, after surviving on rain water and raw fish for over a month, they were spotted by a New Ireland fisherman. He gave them fuel – which ran out 100 metres from shore. Luckily, this time, the hapless mariners drifted onto the sand and were saved – albeit with tongues so swollen they couldn’t talk properly.
Three teenagers from Tokelau took to the sea in an aluminium boat – and were lost – never to be seen again. That’s what distraught inhabitants of the boys’ home – a remote group of islands in the Pacific thought. But amazingly, the children survived an incredible 50 days adrift.
They drank rainwater, ate the few coconuts they’d brought along, and managed to kill a sea bird, which they devoured raw. They were eventually discovered in an advanced state of dehydration by an Australian tuna fishing boat. Back at home, islanders were overjoyed with the happy news, weeping and hugging each other in the street.
Too poor to afford a VHF radio, when their 28 foot shark fishing boat ran out of fuel, its crew of five Mexicans must have feared the worst. Strong winds blew them out to sea, and into the the Northern equatorial current – which crosses the Pacific from Mexico to the Philippines.
When the fishermen noticed planes flying overhead from the West, they realised their best chance of making landfall was to rig makeshift sails and head further out to sea. By the time they were rescued by a Taiwanese fishing boat off the Marshall Islands, they’d covered 5,500 nautical miles. Two of the crew died during the ordeal, but the remaining mariners lived by dining on raw fish, seabirds and turtles.