Real Life Castaway Claims He Was Lost at Sea for 13 Months

A man claiming to have been adrift at sea for 13 months washed ashore in the Marshall Islands last week, telling authorities that a storm blew his fiberglass boat off course during what was supposed to be a day-long shark fishing expedition in December 2012.

Jose Salvador Alvarenga said that he survived off fish, birds, and turtles that he caught with his hands, eating them raw and drinking their blood. A teenage companion hadn’t been able to stomach the diet, let alone drinking his own urine when there was no rainwater to collect, and Alvarenga said he died four weeks into their drift.


Alvarenga is originally from El Salvador but has been living in Mexico for 15 years. He has family in Maryland, who told NBC News that the castaway appeared to be their long-lost son and brother, whom they haven’t seen in a decade. The names checked out, and they hail from the same tiny town as Alvarenga.

Some are wary of his story, as the man appeared far too healthy to have just survived 13 months lost at sea, but his story is plausible. With wind and ocean current patterns being the way they are, experts estimate that it would take anywhere from nine months to two years to drift from the west coast of Mexico to the Marshall Islands, located in the Pacific between Hawaii and Australia.

Alvarenga is currently under medical observation, and authorities are gathering information from around the world to collaborate his story.

As for the castaway? One of the first things he wanted to know was when he could get a haircut. I don’t know, but this just adds a ring of authenticity to the story for me. It sounds like the request of a man in shock from having finally been rescued from a hellish ordeal.

Do you think this castaway is legit?


Image via Franco Folini/Flickr

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