Guy Lost at Sea for 29 Days: 'It Was a Nice Break'

Livae Nanjikana and a companion floated 250 miles off course
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2021 7:40 AM CDT
Guy Lost at Sea for 29 Days: 'It Was a Nice Break'
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/PaulFleet)

Being lost at sea for nearly a month wouldn't be most people's idea of a good time, and it probably wasn't for Livae Nanjikana and Junior Qoloni, but it was still a respite of sorts for at least one of them. The Guardian reports the two men from the Solomon Islands were rescued Saturday off the coast of Papua New Guinea, after floating 250 miles off course during 29 days trapped on the open water. The men's journey began Sept. 3, when they set off on a 23-foot, 60-horsepower motorboat from Mono Island, with their destination set for the island of New Georgia, about 125 miles away.

"It should have been OK," Nanjikana says, noting they'd done this trip in the past. It was not OK, however: Heavy rain and wind soon interrupted their travels, making the shoreline they used as their guide difficult to see—followed by their GPS dying. The two men shut off their engine to save fuel as darkness approached, and the bad weather drove them further out to sea, per the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

For the next four weeks, the men survived by eating oranges they'd brought with them and coconuts that floated by their boat. They were able to catch rainwater in a canvas to drink. On their 27th day lost at sea, they spotted the island of New Britain in the distance, and two days later, a fisherman in a wooden canoe. Using the little bit of fuel they had left, they throttled closer to him (until the fuel ran out), then frantically waved and shouted until he noticed them.

The men's boat was towed to shore, where they received medical treatment and a meal. Nanjikana sees a silver lining in what the Independent is calling "an epic story of survival and resilience." "I guess it was a nice break from everything," he tells the Guardian. "I had no idea what was going on while I was out there. I didn't hear about COVID or anything else." Arrangements are being made to get the men back home. (Read more lost at sea stories.)

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