Two men survived 29 days on a boat bobbing in the Solomon Sea, on a diet of oranges, coconuts and rainwater. They were rescued off the coast of Papua New Guinea, about 400 kilometers from where their journey began.
Livae Nanjikana and Junior Qoloni, residents of the Solomon Islands in the western Pacific Ocean, boarded a small motorboat on September 3. They planned to sail from Mono Island to the town of Noro on New Georgia Island, two hundred miles away. A trip they had already made before, “so it had to be okay,” Nanjikana later told The Guardian.
It turned out differently than expected: on the Solomon Sea, which separates the archipelago from Papua New Guinea, they were hit by a hefty storm. Due to the heavy rainfall and strong winds, they could no longer orientate themselves on the coastline. “The bad weather made things worse, but it got really scary when our GPS system broke down,” Nanjikana said.
The men survived at sea on the oranges they had brought with them for the trip, and on coconuts, they fished from the sea. They collected rainwater with a piece of cloth in order to drink.
Only 29 days later, last Saturday, they were rescued by a fisherman. They turned out to have arrived off the coast of Papua New Guinea, about 400 kilometers from their starting point. “We had no idea where we were drifting, but we didn’t expect to end up in another country.”
The men were in such bad shape on arrival that they had to be carried from their boat. The local health clinic has examined the two, and they have now recovered somewhat. A local man, Joe Kolealo, takes them in temporarily. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Solomon Islands is in contact with the men to ensure that they can return home safely soon.
Nanjikana, meanwhile, says he also sees positive sides to the adventure, such as the forced pause of all news about the corona pandemic. “I had no idea what was happening in the rest of the world. I’m looking forward to going home, but this was a nice break from everything.”