A South Carolina Sailor Has Been Rescued After 66 Days Lost at Sea

by Owen James Burke

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Louis Jordan walks into Norfolk Hospital after 66 days adrift in the Gulf Stream of the Carolina Coast. Photo: WAVY/Liz Palka

Last seen on January 23rd aboard his 35-foot sailboat, the Angel, at a marina in Conway, South Carolina, 37-year-old sailor Louis Jordan was spotted aboard the disabled yacht and rescued by German-flagged cargo vessel the Houston Express 200 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina at around 1:30pm on Thursday, 66 days later.

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Photo: WAVY/Liz Palka

The M/V Houston Express put in a call to the US Coast Guard 5th District Command Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, which sent a medevac helicopter to retrieve the sailor and deliver him to Norfolk Hospital. He was suffering from a wounded shoulder which required immediate medical attention, but according to US Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Krystyn Pecora, had managed to survive on fish and collected rainwater.

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Photo: WAVY/Liz Palka

Jordan set sail from the Wacamaw River near Conway, South Carolina on January 23rd, said another Coast Guard spokesman, Ryan Ross, and was not reported missing until January 29th, when his father called in to the US Coast Guard to report that he hadn’t heard from him in a week.

His mother then called the following week, and the Coast Guard began to alert marinas and fueling stations from Miami, Florida to New Jersey. In the meantime, they told her to monitor all of his social media platforms and file a missing persons report with the police, in case he turned up on land.

One complication made the situation all the more dire for the Coast Guard’s search and rescue initiative: he hadn’t given anyone a float plan, and all his family knew was that he was going fishing in the Gulf Stream. “We didn’t know where he was going,” reported Doss. “Without that critical piece of information, a good portion of the Atlantic Ocean becomes your search area.”

According to the phone conversation with his father (listen below), it is expected that Jordan will be spending the night in the hospital. He sounded, as one might imagine, happy to be alive and on terra firma, but spoke very calmly, and looked curiously healthy for someone who’d spent two months adrift on a capsized hull and details are still hazy. — OJB

Listen to Mr. Jordan’s first conversation with his father since his stranding:

And listen to his father thank the captain of the M/V Houston Express:

Read more of the harrowing story at the Outer Banks VoiceThe News & Observer and Wavy — OJB

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