What started out as an everyday shark fishing trip turned into an absolute nightmare for five men in the Pacific Ocean.
Hundreds of miles from where they started, the search and rescue teams had no hope in answering their prayers. All radio connection had been lost, and all the men had left was each other, hope, and faith…
One early October morning, five men decided to go shark fishing, which requires deep sea travel. They left the port of Nayarit to travel 30 miles into the ocean. The boat they traveled in was a 28-foot fiberglass fishing boat.
The men intended for this trip to last only a few days, but mother nature had something else in mind. The men had exhausted all of their gas. Soon after, a cold front came in and aggressively swept the men further out to sea. The islands that they could once see in the distance, quickly disappeared.
The men only had limited amounts of supplies left. They hoped and prayed that the current would drift them back towards land before their supplies ran out. The opposite happened, however, and the men were pushed miles across the Pacific Ocean.
Hope seemed lost for the men, and they needed to do what they could to survive. They knew the glaring sun could cause major dehydration, so they created makeshift tents to create shade with blankets they had on board. Gathering food was their next step.
The men were already good fisherman, so they did not worry about catching fish to eat. They made lines from cables and used springs from the boat’s motor to craft hooks. The men reported that at times they caught quite a few fish, and other times, nothing. They were forced to consume raw fish, as they had no way of making a fire.
One of the men, Mr. Ordonez, was nicknamed ‘El Gato.’ He played a very large part in the men’s ability to survive. He was a pro at pouncing on any sea gull that landed on the boat. This allowed them to eat some form of meat besides fish. Once again, however, it was raw.
The resourceful men knew the importance of drinking water and rinsed out a gas jug they had on board. They left it open to collect rainwater that they could use as drinking water to prevent dehydration. The first month had very little rain, but after that, rain was common so they were able to collect sufficient amounts of water.
The boat’s owner and one of the other men were unable to eat the raw fish and meat. Their bodies were not taking well to it, and they were constantly vomiting up blood. After two months, unfortunately, the two men died of starvation. The three remaining men were saddened by their deaths, but days later were forced to throw them overboard.
One day, the fisherman caught a glimpse of hope. They saw planes flying from the west. They knew it would be easier to travel towards the direction in which the planes were coming from, instead of going against the wind towards the direction the planes were traveling. The men made a makeshift sail with one of their blankets, and headed west.
Finally, on August 9th, the men’s prayers were answered. A Taiwanese fishing boat spotted them and brought them on board. They quickly gave the men water and fed them their first real meal in ages. They were also given clothes and medical care.
When the men arrived back to shore they were handed over to local authorities. They were over 200 miles from their original departure location. The men were said to have been hungry and exhausted, however, otherwise they were in good medical condition. In New Zealand, they were sent to the Mexican embassy where it was arranged to have the men sent home.
Upon arriving home, their friends and family cheered in the streets. They could not believe that after nine months the men had survived. Celebrations were in order, and well deserved. One of the men, Vidani, even had the blessing of coming home to a four-month-old child who he had never had the chance to meet.
The men claimed that passing time was one of their most difficult feats. Luckily, one of the men had a Bible and they took turns reading from it. Additionally, they often sang songs and danced to lift their spirits.
One of the greatest things the men attributed to their survival was their faith. By the end of their trip, their Bible only had a few pages left, as it had weathered the time with them. Vidana was quoted saying, “We never lost hope because there is a God up there.”
Ministry of Mexico
The Mexican Council of Bishops made a wonderful example of these men. They proclaimed that everyone in Mexico should have faith like them. “”We should follow the example of these three fishermen, making prayer the source of our strength,” they said.
Many theories about the men’s story swirled around Mexico. Some people didn’t believe their version at all. Mexican news outlets cast shadows of doubt on the men’s story. They suggested that they could in fact be drug smugglers that are lying to avoid facing persecution.
In addition to the media suggesting the men were drug smugglers, they also threw a more gruesome theory out there. They suggested that the other two men did not die, rather, the other three men killed them and engaged in cannibalism to help them survive. The three men adamantly denied these claims, stating they could never do such a thing.
The three men, having survived such a difficult time in their lives, wanted to get back to a sense of normality. Surprisingly enough, none of them were afraid of the water, and went back to being shark fisherman. They claimed it was the only way they knew how to feed their families.
New Zealand offered to return the boat to the three men in Mexico, however, they did not want it. They had spent way too many horrible months on that boat and they never wished to see it again. It brought back memories they wished to remove from their minds forever.
This amazing story of survival has encouraged change in the Mexican city. Many of the fishing boats that depart from the port where these men departed rarely have any survival supplies on board. However, now, the men hope that their story will encourage other to prepare for the worst, at all times.