An Indonesian teenager has made it safely back to dry land after being adrift at sea in a wooden hut for a staggering 49 days. Aldi Novel Adiliang was rescued by a passing freighter after he was found adrift some 1,200 miles off the coast of North Sulawesi.
The hut he was stationed in broke free from its moorings during a storm and proceeded to carry him out to sea. He admitted crying frequently and being scared while adrift. It’s believed that more than 10 ships passed Aldi when he was adrift before he was found, but none of them saw him or stopped to pick him up.
Adilang, who’s believed to be 18 or 19 years old, survived by soaking his clothes in seawater then squeezing them out, and cooking fish caught from the ocean using parts of the wooden hut in order to create a fire.
Some say that the teenager’s experience in isolation at sea came in very handy during his 49-day ordeal. The floating hut, or rompong, that he was stationed on is usually moored some 80 miles off the Indonesian coast. His job was to light lamps at nightfall to lure fish into a trap. Adilang would do this job for up to six months at a time, with only a walkie-talkie and the odd weekly supply drop for human contact.
When the hut broke free of its moorings, Adilang did have a small supply of food with him, but it ran out after just a week. In addition, the only respite that he got from drinking seawater was the occasional rainfall.
After one month and 18 days of being adrift at sea, Adilang was rescued by the Arpeggio, a bulk carrier. He was already in the territorial waters of Guam at this point. He wasn’t actually spotted by members of the vessel’s crews – he successfully managed to alert them to his plight via his walkie-talkie. When aboard, he was promptly fed and given fresh clothes. The bulk carrier took him to Japan prior to him being reunited with his family in Indonesia.
What’s even more amazing about this story is that it marked the third time that Adilang’s hut had broken free of his moorings. He was lucky enough to have been rescued by his boss on the two previous occasions.
Perhaps sensibly, Adilang doesn’t appear to be returning to the rompong business any time soon – he decided that he doesn’t want to after his third time adrift in the space of two years. This means that there’s now a vacancy at his former employer, who operates about 50 rompongs off the coast. Contracts last six months, and the job pays $130 per month. Any takers?