PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A sailor who’s been missing for more than 60 days was spotted off the coast of Cape Hatteras Thursday and brought to a Norfolk hospital.
Louis Jordan, 36, sat down with WAVY’s Liz Palka at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital just after 12 a.m. Friday. He said the more than two months he spent stranded on the 35-foot sailboat Angel felt much longer. The whole time he said he begged God for water, to send rain, and rationed his food and energy.
“I rationed my water to where I had drunk about a pint a day. For such a long a time, I was so thirsty. And I was almost out of water, and everyday I was like, ‘please, God, send me some rain, send me some water,’ begging God, ‘please.’ And finally, right before I ran out of water, finally the conditions were perfect,” Jordan said.
Around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, the German container ship Houston Express contacted Coast Guard watchstanders in Portsmouth, saying they had taken aboard a man from a disabled sailboat 200 miles off the coast.
Jordan described seeing the ship Thursday. At first, he said he didn’t believe it was real. He sent it signals, but they didn’t see him until he started waving his arms.
“I saw a bigger boat, and it had its back to me or front to me, as far as I could tell, and I waved my hands real slowly, and that’s the signal, ‘I’m in distress, help me.’ I blew my whistles. I had three whistles. They never heard them,” Jordan said. “I turned my American flag upside down and put that up. That says, ‘rescue me.’ They never saw it. All they saw was [my hands moving].”
A Coast Guard helicopter crew left Elizabeth City around 3:40 p.m., met the Houston Express and hoisted Jordan onto the MH-60 Jayhawk.
Jordan is from Conway, South Carolina, and calls himself an inexperienced sailor. Before Thursday, he was last seen January 23 with the Angel at Bucksport Marina, which is just south of Myrtle Beach. His family reported him missing to the Coast Guard January 29.
Jordan was on a fishing trip, headed north, when the Angel hit rough weather. He said he saw a wave crash into his window on the boat. He was flying through the air inside the cabin. Everything was upside down. The boat filled somewhat with water.
Jordan claims the boat capsized three times, but had a mechanism that automatically righted the boat. The sailboat lost its mast and all electronics on board became disabled. He ended up drifting. At some point, he said he broke his shoulder.
Jordan survived by rationing food he had on board, catching fish to eat with a net and collecting rain water to drink. Most of the time he spend inside the boat’s cabin.
“I rationed my food and water. I rationed my energy, because every little thing I did, every cleaning chore, every sailing chore and every repair took energy,” he said.
Jordan had a propane tank for a small stove and said he made pancakes and plenty of fried fish.
“Eventually, what I did is, I lured them from their hiding place with a shirt on a rope,” Jordan said. “I just took my hand net and I put the hand net right next to them and scooped them up.”
Jordan and the Coast Guard crew arrived at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital around 7:30 p.m. WAVY News Liz Palka confirmed Jordan was able to walk into the hospital on his own. Sentara spokesman Dale Gauding confirmed Jordan was in good condition upon arrival.
Jordan’s mother arrived at the hospital around 10 p.m. and his father later Thursday evening. He was discharged early Friday morning and was at his mother’s house in Jacksonville, N.C. by the afternoon.
WAVY.com received audio of Jordan talking to his father, Frank Jordan, for the first time after being rescued. They had not been in contact for more than two months.
“We prayed and we prayed, and we hoped that you were still alive,” Frank Jordan said to his son. “So, that’s all that matters. That’s the only thing that matters.”
“I was just praying about you, ’cause I was afraid that you guys were crying and sad that I was dead … and I wasn’t dead,” Louis Jordan replied.
“We were. I thought I lost you,” Frank Jordan said.
Listen to the phone call in the audio player below.