PORTSMOUTH, Va. — A man reported missing at sea two months ago was rescued on the overturned hull of his sailboat off the North Carolina coast, and he walked away from a hospital hours later in good condition, with no obvious sunburn, dehydration or other signs of distress.
Louis Jordan, 37, said he got by by rationing his water and energy and praying for help.
"Every day I was like, 'Please God, send me some rain, send me some water,'" Louis Jordan, 37, told WAVY-TV.
The crew of a German-flagged container ship found Jordan on his single-masted 35-foot boat on Thursday afternoon.
Neither he nor the Coast Guard said exactly when Jordan's vessel capsized. Jordan managed to catch and eat fish during his ordeal, according to the Coast Guard, and despite reports of a shoulder injury and dehydration, he arrived at a hospital in good condition and refused treatment, a facility spokesman said.
A four-man Coast Guard helicopter crew hoisted Jordan off the German vessel. In interviews Friday at Coast Guard headquarters in Portsmouth, they said they did not see Jordan's boat and did not know any details about his time at sea. By the time they picked him up — about 5 p.m. Thursday — Jordan had been on the German vessel for a few hours and had been able to take a shower and speak to his family, the guardsmen said.
"He walked over to me as soon as I landed on deck and had a small smile on his face," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Kyle McCollum, who had the first contact with Jordan. "My initial impression of him was he was in pretty good health. ... We were expecting worse with blisters and severe sunburn and dehydration."
"He was in a fairly good condition for a guy that you would normally expect to see after 60-plus days offshore," added Lt. Jack Shadwick, the helicopter's co-pilot
Jordan said he initially did not believe the container ship was real when he saw it. He said the ship's crew did not see him until he began waving his arms.
"I waved my hands real slowly, and that's the signal 'I'm in distress. Help me,'" he told WAVY. "I blew my whistles. I had three whistles. They never heard them. I turned my American flag upside down and put that up. That says, 'Rescue me.'"
Jordan had been living on his 1950s-era boat at a marina in Conway, South Carolina, near Myrtle Beach, until January, when he told his family he was going into open water to sail and fish, said his mother, Norma Davis. He set out Jan. 23, Coast Guard officials said, and hadn't been heard from since.
Jordan told WAVY that he was traveling north when his boat hit bad weather. He said he saw a wave crash into his window, and the boat eventually filled with water.
He said he rationed his water to about a pint a day, but "for such a long a time I was so thirsty."
Jordan said that at one point he was flying through the air, and he thinks he broke his shoulder.
McCollum, of Coast Guard helicopter crew, said Jordan had slight bruising on his right clavicle when he was found, but it did not appear serious: "He was moving that arm so fluidly, without any skip and there wasn't any sign of pain in his face as he was moving."
On Jan. 29, the Coast Guard in Miami was notified by his father, Frank Jordan, that he hadn't seen or heard from his son in a week, agency spokeswoman Marilyn Fajardo said.
Alerts were issued from New Jersey to Miami, according to the Coast Guard. Officials searched financial data to determine whether Jordan had come ashore without being noticed, but they found no such indication, Fajardo said.
A search began Feb. 8, but Fajardo said the Coast Guard abandoned it after 10 days. Some sailors reporting seeing Jordan's boat, but no sightings were confirmed.
The Coast Guard said Jordan didn't file a "float plan," the nautical equivalent of a flight plan, with his route or destination.
Jeff Weeks manages the Bucksport Plantation Marina, where Jordan docked his boat.
"He is somewhat of a person who stays to himself," Weeks said. "I consider him a gentle giant with a good personality. But he likes to be self-sufficient. Here at the marina, he liked to catch most all of the food that he'd eat. He would eat a lot of rice and fish. And he would know what berries and what mushrooms to pick. He was really knowledgeable on some survival skills."
Associated Press writers Bruce Smith in Charleston, S.C.; Pam Ramsey in Charleston, W.Va.; and Tom Foreman Jr. and Emery P. Dalesio in Charlotte contributed to this report.