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Автор Тема: Saved by sea rubbish: A sailor's incredible survival story of 16 hours adrift  (Прочитано 148 раз)

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How 52-year-old sailor Vidam Perevertilov survived being lost at sea in the dark - with no life jacket

Overboard in the middle of the South Pacific, 52-year-old sailor Vidam Perevertilov pinned all his hopes on a small black dot on the horizon and started swimming.

It was a decision that saved his life.

He had no life jacket on when he fell off the cargo ship Silver Supporter as it travelled on its routine supply run between Tauranga and Pitcairn Island on February 16.

When he hit the cold, dark water it was about 4am and pitch black.

Vidam’s strength was sapped as he struggled to stay afloat and his hopes dropped as his ship, unaware he had fallen, sailed away.

“He could see a black dot in the horizon still several kilometres away,” his son Marat told Stuff from Lithuania.

“He started swimming towards it. His will to survive was strong, but he told me until the sun came up he was struggling to stay afloat.

“I probably would have drowned straight away, but he always kept himself fit and healthy and that’s why I think he could survive.”

Marat has been in contact with his father since he went overboard and heard his incredible story of survival via message chats.

He passes on his thanks, and Vidam’s thanks, to all the rescuers who saved their family from tragedy.

Vidam ran into trouble after completing a night-shift in Silver Supporter’s engine room pumping fuel.

“He said after finishing his shift he started to feel hot and dizzy, so he went to the aft deck to recover,” Marat said.

“He doesn’t remember falling overboard. He may have fainted.”

It took about six hours for the crew to notice Vidam was missing. A general alarm was called. All hands were counted. One was missing.

The captain turned the ship around and radioed in the emergency. Work logs showed the last record of Vidam being aboard was when he filled out a work report following his shift at 4am.

The coordinates of the ship’s location at the time was sent to JRCC Tahiti and distress messages were radioed out to ships in the area.

The Meteo-France, a French-national meteorological service heard of the distress signal and offered assistance by calculating the probable drift patterns.

French navy aircraft based in Polynesia scrambled to aid in the search.

As the rescue effort ramped up, Vidam finished his long swim towards the black speck he had gambled on.

“It turned out to be an old fishing buoy,” Marat said.

“It was not anchored to anything or a boat, it was just a piece of sea rubbish.”

It was rubbish. But it floated. That was all Vidam needed. Now he could bob in the water and conserve his energy.

But there was a new problem, the sun that helped him find his lifeline now beat down on him, burning his skin and parching his throat.

There was nothing Vidam could do but wait and bear it. He watched the ever-darkening horizon as he burned, hoping a ship would arrive before sunset.

Suddenly a familiar ship crested the horizon. The Silver Supporter. He waved at it and called out desperately.

“What happened next was nearly inexplicable,” Marat said. “The Silver Supporter was running search patterns and one of the passengers said he had heard a weak, human shout on the starboard side of the ship.”

Marat was told the captain made a decision to change his search vector to investigate but, after 10 minutes, they saw nothing. They spun the ship back to return their original search pattern and on route one lookout spotted a raised hand over the sea surface.

“They came alongside, threw him a lifebuoy, lowered a ladder and a crewman pulled him on board,” Marat said.

“He looked about 20 years older and very tired but he was alive.

“It was incredible someone heard a voice, or even if they thought they heard a voice, and it all came together from there.”

British High Commissioner Laura Clarke, who is also Governor of Pitcairn Islands, compared the survival to the historic survival tale of then-Captain William Bligh who in 1789 was cast adrift from his ship Bounty after a mutiny but travelled 6,700 kilometres to safety in an open boat.

The mutineers from the Bounty became the first inhabitants of Pitcairn Island.

Marat says the ordeal has affected his father, but he is healing well so far.

“He talks about God a lot in messages now, and he was not a very religious person before,” he said.

“He’s done a great deal of thinking about his whole life while out in the ocean.”

Marat asked his father why he didn’t bring the buoy on board as a souvenir.

“It’s funny. He said he wanted to leave it there, so it could save another."

by Matt Shand


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