Being stranded at sea must be a traumatic experience for those who have survived it, and even for those who did not make it out alive, their last moments must have been terrible. Ask anyone who has been through such a scary ordeal, and they’ll probably tell you that it takes sheer courage and a strong will to live to be able to keep your head above water (literally).
About a month ago on 4th May, John Low, a 60-year-old Singaporean, was stranded at sea for four days and three nights after his boat was hit by a strong wave near Tioman island. His hopes of having a leisurely diving trip were crushed when water seeped into the boat, causing it to sink, leaving John with only a ring buoy to hold on to and his backpack which he managed to salvage.
Being a diving instructor himself, John felt like he was a good enough swimmer to swim back to shore, but the strong waves pushing against him proved too much, reported The Straits Times.
Around 10pm that night, he could no longer see the shore nor could he find any boats nearby, which caused him to start panicking. Refusing to give up, he told himself that he must persevere and stay alive for his family despite feeling really weak in his limbs as the second day approached.
The T-shirt, shorts and underwear he was wearing were rubbing against his sunburnt skin and it got so painful that he couldn’t bear it any more, so he stripped.
John told Business Insider that the lack of food and drinks wasn’t what affected him the most, rather it was the physical and mental torture he had to go through. It became so bad that he resorted to talking to inanimate objects like calling his ring buoy and Rolex “boy” and “brother” just to ensure he didn’t go crazy.
However, he still began seeing things and hearing voices telling him to let go of the buoy. He even hallucinated that someone was bringing him to a 7-11 store to buy Coca-Cola.
He told Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao that his face felt like it was being pierced by a thousand needles due to the heat of the sun. He added that in order to avoid the sun hitting his face, he had to put his face into the water, which also resulted in a lot of pain. His skin was so burnt that it had turned dark brown.
He explained that the skin of his armpit had stuck onto the ring buoy as he had been soaking in the water for hours upon hours, which he described as “unbearably painful”. Other than that, there were also marine animals biting his legs, but he was too tired to chase them off.
Here’s his interview with Zaobao:
Posted by Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报 on Saturday, June 8, 2019
After four days of being adrift, John was fortunately spotted by a passing ship called the Diogo Cao in the South China Sea. The Singapore authorities were informed right after he was lifted onboard, as he had fallen unconscious as the ship approached.
He said that he remembered thinking to himself, “It was like, I’m saved. Now I can sleep well”.
On 7th May, John was airlifted in a prompt rescue by the Rescue 10 of The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
He said that he was reassured when the rescue team worked anxiously to get him out of the sea, and added that the unpredictable weather made it a lot tougher for them to pull off the mission. He later thanked them for their bravery and gave each one of them a hug as a token of his gratitude.
“I hope there will be no one else for you to save but if you do, keep doing the same thing with your bravery,” he told them.
You can watch him being rescued here;
Mr John Low spent three days drifting in the sea after his diving boat sank in bad weather. He had no food, no water, and no shelter.By a stroke of luck, he was spotted by a passing ship 'DIOGO CAO' and our RESCUE 10 was scrambled to rescue him. Exactly one month on, our Search and Rescue team caught up with Mr John.This is his story.
Posted by The Republic of Singapore Air Force on Friday, June 7, 2019
God really heard John’s prayers and rescued him from what must’ve been a never-ending nightmare. Kudos to the rescue team who brought John back to safety, and ship that spotted him! Because of them, he is now able to live to tell the story.
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