Aldi Novel Adilang was stranded out at sea for 49 days when the ropes that were anchoring his boat to the seabed snapped.
This truly miraculous story of survival is reminiscent of The Life of Pi as Aldi showed he is just as skilled as Bear Grylls…
Adilang was just 19 years old at the time of the incident in July 2018. He was working a job in a fishing hut, called a rompong. He was already around 77 miles off the island of Sulawesi where his rompong was docked when the terrible accident occurred.
As the ropes snapped, he ended up drifting further out to sea. With no safety equipment or navigation on his rompong, he became helpless. Read on as The Focus explores how Aldi survived being alone at sea for an incredible 49 days.
How the terrified teen got lost at sea for 49 days
The reason Aldi was on the rompong in the first place is because he worked as a lamp keeper, meaning his job was to light the rompong’s lamps, in order to attract fish. Every week he would be brought food, fuel, and water as people collected the fish he’d caught.
Aldi had no way of steering the rompong. He had barely any food supply onboard, his rice and clean water ran out after just one week. Desperate to stay hydrated, he made his own water filter by drinking seawater through his T-shirt to reduce the amount of salt in it. In order to stay alive, he had to catch fish which he cooked by burning the fences from his hut, or even ate it raw.
Aldi Novel Adilang’s miraculous rescue story
In the 49 days that he was lost at sea, Aldi recalls 10 ships passed by him. However, none of them stopped as they didn’t see him calling for help.
Some may wonder how the lone boy kept going, and Aldi revealed it was Christian songs, the Bible, and praying. However, he admitted to the BBC that at one point he felt depressed and considered drowning himself, noting prayer and hope as the things that saved him.
However, on August 31, he was finally spotted by a Panamanian vessel carrying coal. Aldi begged for help on his portable radio. By this time he had drifted 1,200 miles out, near the waters of Gaum in the Pacific, but Aldi still had no idea where he was, how long he would be out there, or whether he would survive.
Thankfully, the crew on the vessel saved the stranded boy and pulled him onboard their ship. The teen threw himself in the water to grab a rope ladder. The crew pulled him up and wrapped him in blankets, giving him clothes and water.
Aldi stayed on the vessel for a week until they reached Japan where he flew back to his home in Indonesia. The teenager was then reunited with his family in Manado. According to a Facebook post, he recovered after this ordeal.
This isn’t the first time Aldi has survived being lost at sea
Aldi told the BBC about the incident in July 2018. He even revealed this wasn’t the first time he’d been lost at sea.
It had happened to him twice before, but not for as long as one month and 19 days. He explained: “The first [time], I was afloat for a week and helped by the owner of the raft,” he said.
“The second time, I was afloat for two days and also received help from the owner of the raft.”
The teen had signed a one-year contract for his job and was paid $134 a month. However, following the recent sailing incident, he said he wouldn’t be returning to his rompong again.
If you are affected by any issues raised in the article or would like someone to speak to, please call the Samaritans for free on 116 123. You can also email them at [email protected] or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch in the UK. In the US, please visit Samaritans USA for more information.
You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text 741741 to get in touch with the Crisis Text Line. Americans can now call or text 988 to reach out and speak to a counsellor.