After miraculously surviving for two months lost at sea aboard a 23-foot skiff, a Columbian man identified as Javier Eduardo Olaya was rescued after being rescued by a crew of merchants aboard the Panamanian.
The stranded mariner, 29, was taken to Honolulu where he arrived in good condition after his rescuers flagged down Nikkei Verde, a bulk carrier, on April 26 over 2,000 miles from Hawaii.
Olaya informed his rescuers that he had three friends with him who had been with him when the engine failed on the skiff, leaving them stranded. Unfortunately his companions didn’t make it but the man was able to survive by catching and eating fish and seagulls to survive.
The bodies of the three others weren’t aboard the vessel, but the surviving castaway had been given their passports.
Once rescued, the Olaya told Coast Guard personnel he was “very happy” to make it back to dry land, he just wished his friends had survived.
“This mariner had great fortitude and is very fortunate the crew of the Nikkei Verde happened upon him as the area he was in is not heavily trafficked,” said Lt. Cmdr. John MacKinnon, Joint Rescue Coordination Center chief with the Coast Guard 14th District. “The Pacific is vast and inherently dangerous and all mariners respect that. These merchant mariners did the right thing in rendering assistance and most mariners heed the obligation to render assistance at sea, found in the Safety Of Life At Sea Convention, out of a sense of duty and understanding rather than required compliance.”
The U.S. Coast Guard stated it will not investigate the case since it falls out of their jurisdiction.