A sailor who fell into the Pacific Ocean without a life jacket survived by clinging to a “piece of sea rubbish” for hours before he was rescued. Vidam Perevertilov spent 14 hours in the cold water after he fell off the cargo ship Silver Supporter as the vessel made its routine supply run between New Zealand’s Tauranga port and Pitcairn Island, reports BBC. The incident occurred at about 4 AM on February 16.
After falling into the ocean, the 52-year-old spotted a small black dot in the horizon several kilometres away and began swimming towards it – a decision that he credits with saving his life.
“He could see a black dot in the horizon still several kilometres away,” his son Marat told news website Stuff from Lithuania.
“He started swimming towards it. His will to survive was strong, but he told me until the sun came up he was struggling to stay afloat.
“I probably would have drowned straight away, but he always kept himself fit and healthy and that’s why I think he could survive.”
Mr Perevertilov managed to reach the “black dot”, which turned out to be a fishing buoy, and held onto it until he was rescued hours later. “It was not anchored to anything or a boat, it was just a piece of sea rubbish,” said Marat of the fishing buoy.
It took six hours for the ship’s crew to notice that their chief engineer was missing. The captain turned the ship around and radioed for emergency upon realising that Mr Perevertilov was not on board. Meanwhile, the 52-year-old had been clinging to the buoy, exhausted.
“What happened next was nearly inexplicable,” Marat said. “The Silver Supporter was running search patterns and one of the passengers said he had heard a weak, human shout on the starboard side of the ship.”
Incredibly enough, a passenger on lookout managed to hear a faint noise – Mr Perevertilov calling for help. He was eventually pulled to safety.
British High Commissioner to New Zealand Laura Clarke, who also acts as Governor of Pitcairn Islands, told New Zealand Herald that rescuers were relieved at the happy ending.
“We all feared for the worst, given the sheer scale of the Pacific Ocean, and its strong currents,” she said.
“So the fact that the Silver Supporter found him, and he survived is just amazing: a story of survival that even Captain Bligh … would have applauded.”
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