Lost at sea for thirteen months

by Jan Ligthart

MAJURO, 5 February - Jose Salvador Alverenga, a fisherman from El Salvador, was found on an isolated beach on Ebon Atoll of the Marshall Islands after being lost at sea for thirteen months. Or so he claims, since a lot of experts have serious doubts about his story.

Alvarenga told authorities he left for a one day sharkfishing trip from Mexico in November of 2012 but a storm took their boat out into the ocean. He traveled more than 6500 miles across the Pacific before he was discovered on the remote island. He was found near the 22-foot fiberglass boat he had been living in and was brought to the hospital in the island town of Delap, Majuro Atoll. 

At first, Alvarenga was not alone. There was also a teenage son of a co-worker on the boat. About four weeks after the storm, he boy died from hunger and thirst and Alvarenga said he threw the body of his companion overboard.


He told reporters that he lived off of fish, birds and bird blood. “When there was nothing, I would eat nothing,” he said “I would drink my urine. I spent a lot of time without eating.” He was forced to drink his own urine due to lack of fresh water.

Some people have doubts about his story since it is quit a feat to survive more than three months out on the ocean. Authorities on the Marshall Islands and in Mexico are checking his story. Experts say his story does not add up. But if it does, he is one of the greatest survivors on earth. The acting secretary of foreign affairs for the Marshall Islands, Gee Bing said he remained sceptical of the castaway’s account after meeting with him: "He was not really thin compared to other survivors in the past. I may have some doubts."