On Sunday evening, February 19, Seabourn Odyssey was sailing the Pacific Ocean some 150 miles southwest of Pago Pago, America Samoa, when the portside bridge watch spotted something in the distance. Captain Mark Dexter found no missing vessel reports, but wondered why this boat would be so far from land. He deviated from his course to investigate further and spotted a small boat adrift some miles away from the ship. As they drew closer, they saw three men jumping and frantically waving their clothing, clearly trying to catch the attention of Seabourn Odyssey. The ship deployed one of its rescue boats and, after determining that they were no threat, rescued three fishermen who had been lost at sea for nearly three weeks! The crew transferred them to the rescue boat and took them to the ship, where they were immediately checked out by the ship’s doctor. While they were dehydrated, hungry and had a few skin sores from the sun, the three men were in surprisingly good health considering they had been drifting at sea for weeks.
They shared their story that evening: they set out to sea from Apia in Western Samoa in early February with the goal of bringing back a chest full of fresh seafood. Unfortunately, they ran out of fuel and drifted further and further away, surviving on their catch of fish and rain water. They had no distress flares, nor any means of radio communication other than a cell phone. Days turned into weeks and they saw no ships until Seabourn Odyssey. They could only hope that the ship would see them and luckily, it did. If Odyssey had been passing in darkness an hour later, the ending might have been tragically different.
The fishermen gave the ship a contact for their employer. When the ship gave him the news, he burst into tears. The men’s families had given up hope and were preparing funerals for them, believing them lost at sea. Those plans have obviously changed and they will be preparing a festive “welcome home” celebration instead! Seabourn Odyssey contacted the U.S. Coast Guard, which had stopped searching for the missing men, assuming the boat had sunk. The ship arrived in Pago Pago the next morning and the fortunate men were turned over to authorities, who assisted in transferring them home to Western Samoa the following day.
During the rescue efforts, Captain Dexter kept his guests informed of the situation. They were so moved by the men’s ordeal that they opened their hearts and wallets. When the fishermen disembarked in Pago Pago, they each received $800, collected from among the guests–money that they can use to purchase a new boat. What an incredibly thoughtful gesture from our guests!
Thanks to the watchful eyes of Seabourn Odyssey’s bridge watch, and the curiosity of Captain Dexter, the three fishermen were saved and will live to tell their terrifying tale. This is the second rescue involving a Seabourn ship in less than a year. It is another example of the amazing skills of our seagoing staff and the timeless code of seamen to look out for each other, which does not change from generation to generation. As the Coast Guard captain put it: “the PV Seabourn Odyssey and its crew deserve a Bravo Zulu for securing these fishermen’s lives!”