Jakarta, Indonesia – An Indonesian teenager has a story to tell that we usually only read in novels.
Aldi Novel Adilang, 19, survived seven weeks adrift on sea after his tiny fishing trap, known as rompong, lost its moorings and ended up some 2,500 kilometers away in waters almost reaching the Pacific island of Guam; his family said Monday.
Rompongs are a traditional form of trapping fish in Indonesia, but are often unmanned, secured by buoys and ropes.
The 19-year-old’s job was to keep the vessel’s lamps lit to attract fishes and the owners would reportedly come by weekly to drop off food, drinking water, fuel and other supplies off the coast of Indonesia.
According to several sources, Adilang’s tale began mid-July, after a storm snapped the line that connected his raft to the seabed, sending him helplessly adrift without a paddle or a motor for weeks. He then had to cope not only with loneliness, but also hunger, thirst and fear.
The young man survived for 49 days, until a Panama-flagged vessel, Arpeggio, rescued him in Guam waters. Before that, more than 10 ships had sailed past Adilang; failing to spot him as he waved for help.
“Rice, clean water, spices, cooking gas, and other supplies ran out. To survive I caught fish and burned the rompong’s wooden fences to make a fire for cooking. I even ate raw fish,” he said smiling via BBC.
After his experience, Adilang said that he will never sail again and we could understand why.