In order to survive, Alvarenga came up with several predation methods. He removed an iron bar from the engine, bent and sharpened the tip to make a hook, so that he could catch a lot of mahi mahi. In the evening, when seabirds came to rest on the boat, they quickly grabbed the bird’s leg with one hand, and pinched the bird’s neck with the other, then broke the bird’s wings and raised it on the boat. He also dug a hole in the empty bottle, put bird bones inside as bait to make a fish cage, and then used other empty bottles as buoys.
Watching the moon gradually become brighter, Alvarenga calculated that Christmas should be coming soon. He cut four seabirds into cubes for their feast. “Man, Christmas is coming. Let’s celebrate. I pray that we will be lucky enough to meet a passing ship and save us home safely.” The
two chatted and ate their “feast”, and suddenly Erdovar had abdominal pain like cramping and kept vomiting. Alvarenga carefully inspected the food and found that there was an undigested venomous sea snake hidden in the seabird’s intestines.
Two days later Cordoba was back to normal, but he refused to eat seabirds raw.
After several months of drifting, they seem to have adapted to the days of drifting at sea. Turtles and seabirds are kept on the boat, and the water bottles picked up are stored in rainwater. The two hide in the freezer during the day and only come out at night. They sometimes lie on their backs on the boat like adventurous teenagers, sketching stars into various shapes, and inventing constellations by themselves. However, the sea did not become merciful because of these two people.
Soon the storm on the sea raged again, and the 10-meter-high waves tossed and threw their boats, Cordoba cried like a child in fright: “We are really going to die, we can’t go back. Now, I will never see my parents, wife and children again. God will come and save us.” The experienced Alvarenga threw away everything from the boat, including gasoline, which was of no use. He also stringed 50 buoys from the ship to act as temporary “sea anchors” floating on the surface of the sea to provide resistance and stability. In order to ensure efficiency, the two replaced them every fifteen minutes and emptied the water on the boat with buckets, but all this was just a stopgap measure.
After the storm, the two stored a lot of rain, and Alvarenga became more and more skilled in catching seabirds and turtles. He would eat one or two seabirds every day, and gradually his weight began to stabilize.
However, since the poisoning incident, Cordoba has consistently refused to eat seabirds raw. Although he occasionally eats some turtle meat and fresh trigger fish, these foods are never enough to slow down his overall deterioration. With the mental pressure of drifting at sea, he began to decline physically and mentally, and even wanted to throw himself into the sea several times.
Alvarenga stopped him again and again, telling him what to do after landing in the future, trying to arouse his desire to survive, but it seemed to have little effect, Cordoba became more and more depressed. “I’m dying, I’m dying.” Cordova wailed incessantly before breakfast one morning.
“Don’t think about that, let’s sleep for a while.” Alvarenga comforted him.
“I’m tired, I want water.” Cordova groaned, breathing rough. Alvarenga took the water bottle into his mouth, but instead of swallowing it, he began to convulse.
Alvarenga panicked, he screamed into Cordoba’s face: “Don’t leave me alone! You must fight for survival! What can I do here alone?” But no matter what Alvarenga How to shout, the sea is vast and peaceful, no one can answer him anymore. Alvarenga put Cordoba’s body on a stool, keeping it out of water.
The next day, he came out of the freezer and saw Cordoba sitting on a stool, as if sunbathing. So Alvarenga began to ask and answer: “Did you sleep well?” “I slept well, did you eat breakfast?” “I ate, did you eat?” “I ate too, now Eat in heaven.”
Just like that, you say and I say, as if Cordoba had not died. On the sixth day after Cordoba’s death, Alvarenga suddenly realized that he was having a long conversation with the corpse. Under the moonlight, Cordoba was like a mummy, turning purple and black. Alvarenga woke up like a dream. He could only keep the clothes on Cordoba that the monk could use, and then cast him. Into the sea.
Since the death of his only companion, Alvarenga’s world has become blank. He floats alone at sea, alive or dead? He asked himself repeatedly, and his confidence began to waver. When the passing ships did not find him again and again, the optimistic sea hunter collapsed completely, and his thoughts of seeking death day after day.
Looking at the sharks coming from the boat, he really wanted to jump and be eaten clean by the sharks. He suddenly thought of his 13-year-old daughter in the dim eyes of tears. When he left his hometown, his daughter was only over one year old, and she didn’t even hear her calling him “Dad”. Isn’t it possible that you can’t meet again until you die?
In order to see his daughter again, Alvaren rekindled his fighting spirit, and he made up his mind to return to the shore.
Drifting for 438 days
The moon was full and the moon was missing, and the days passed, and Alvarenga began to drift into the hinterland of the Pacific Ocean. Lonely, he once walked with a huge whale shark weighing more than 10 tons. Alvarenga often took the opportunity to catch the fish that leaked from the whale shark’s mouth, and sometimes he could touch the whale shark’s skin with white spots. As a good friend, the giant beast sometimes talks for hours. He also caught a black seabird, named Pancho. They accompany each other day and night, sometimes he tells Pancho stories, and sometimes he learns Pancho’s bird calls.
I don’t know how many days and nights I have been drifting at sea. One day, when the wind was strong, Alvarenga’s boat drifted to a small island. He wiped off the rain that was blocking his eyes and made sure that what he saw was not an illusion. It was indeed an island, and tears of surprise came from his eyes.
He was rescued by fishermen on the island. This day was January 30, 2014. So far, he has been drifting at sea for 438 days and more than 9,000 kilometers.
With the help of everyone, Alvarenga returned to his hometown and reunited with his family. He has also become the focus of global news because of his 438 days of adventure at sea. His story is called the true version of “The Fantasy Drifting of the Boy School”. Now, an American reporter has also written this experience into the book “438 Days: In the shadow of dead silence and sharks.
However, what Alvarenga did not expect was that when he returned to his home country, he faced the surprise of his survival by social media. Because he seems too healthy, his figure is still very strong, not at all like the state after 438 days of drifting at sea. Although his hair and beard were very long, and his skin was roughened by the sea breeze and the sun, the lack of food and fresh water for a year did not make him too thin. It was just mild anemia and he did not even suffer from scurvy.
Some doctors are also very interested in him. Through some research, he found that in his marine diet, birds and turtle meat contain a lot of vitamin C, which can prevent scurvy. Oceanographers also proved that it is entirely possible for ocean currents to flow from Mexico to the Marshall Islands, and their subsequent simulations also confirmed this.
Finally, the official certificate from Mexico showed that there were indeed two fishermen who disappeared in November 2012. They also searched and rescued at sea for two days, but they were cancelled due to heavy fog and bad weather. This shows that Alvarenga has indeed created a miracle of survival at sea.
The current Alvarenga, although he finally returned to his hometown to reunite with his relatives, his life on land was not so happy. He began to become deeply afraid of the ocean. Even if he later improved, he did not dare to leave. The coastline is too far.
He said: “I can’t sleep well now, because as long as I close my eyes, Cordoba will appear in my mind.”
Drifting at sea for 438 days, it sounds fantastic and full Adventure, but everything experienced by the people in the story is indeed beyond our imagination. After all, for Alvarenga, the 438 days that left him only painful memories