Lots of buzz right now on the InterWeb about this story: Louis Jordan, age 36 (or 7?), who was airlifted to shore by the Coast Guard yesterday off a German-flagged container ship, M/V Houston Express, that found him adrift some 200 miles east of Cape Hatteras. Many of the stories you find online state he was found atop his boat’s overturned hull, but this seems highly unlikely. No way could you cling to an upside-down full-keeled Pearson Alberg 35 for two months. No way could such a heavily ballasted boat with so little beam and so much deadrise in its hull stay inverted for very long. And no way could the boat stay inverted for much time without sinking.
The story that seems to make the most sense right now is that Jordan, a relatively inexperienced sailor who had been living aboard his boat Angel at the Bucksport Plantation Marina in Conway, South Carolina, and had routinely taken the boat out fishing in coastal waters, decided on January 23 to try his luck fishing offshore for a change. About two days later Angel was capsized while Jordan was asleep below and lost her rig and suffered some sort of damage to her rudder. Jordan suffered a broken collar bone. Apparently he did at one point succeed in getting some sort of jury rig up, but was unable to make progress toward shore. Also, he was capsized two more times. We must assume the boat righted itself after each capsize.
Jordan has stated he lost his radio and electronics in the first capsize. Evidently he had no EPIRB. He survived while adrift first by closely rationing the food and water he already had aboard and then by catching rainwater and fish. He attracted fish by trailing his laundry off the boat and then scooped them up with a net.
Louis aboard Angel in happier times
The geography of his drift
Meanwhile, of course, folks on shore were getting worried. Louis’s dad, Frank Jordan, himself an experienced sailor, reported him missing on January 29. The Coast Guard initiated a search on February 8, but were hampered by a lack of information as to Angel‘s destination and had no properly defined area in which to search for her. They abandoned the effort after 10 days.
Jordan on his return to shore yesterday
The venerable Alberg 35, not a boat that will float for long upside down. I assume the confusion comes from the container ship’s crew having reportedly reported that they found Jordan “on the boat’s hull”
I’ve had one WaveTrain rider asking me what I think about the fact that Jordan is so healthy-looking, implying there might be something suspicious about this story. And yes, he does seem pretty healthy, but reportedly he is very strong man, and an Alberg 35 (upright) is a fairly comfortable vehicle in which to endure a survival drift.
Granted, Steve Callahan, for example, looked much skinnier after his 76-day survival drift, but he was in a rubber liferaft and also is a much skinnier guy in the first place.
Steve Callahan after his rescue in 1982
I seriously doubt Louis Jordan has somehow faked all this. Alternatively, my correspondent may have been wondering how Jordan could look so good after spending two months on an overturned hull, and the answer to that, simply enough, is: he didn’t.
And I almost forgot. Here’s the obligatory USCG airlift video:
The 13 News Now post includes a fairly long (8 minute) “raw” video interview clip that is particularly interesting.