Two men from the Solomon Islands were stranded at sea for nearly a month – they described it as a ‘nice break from everything’.
On September 3, Livae Nanjikana and Junior Qoloni left the Mono Island in the Western province on their small 60hp motorboat for a voyage to Noro. ‘We have done the trip before and it should have been okay,’ Nanjikana told the local Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.
However, disaster struck when their GPS device ran out of battery. After bad weather also got in the way, the pair ended up off-course and lost at sea.
‘We encountered bad weather that came with heavy rain, thick dark clouds and strong winds on our way, for about an hour,’ Nanjikana said, explaining how they couldn’t see the coastline so they lost track of where they were supposed to be going.
‘When the bad weather came, it was bad, but it was worse and became scary when the GPS died. We couldn’t see where we were going and so we just decided to stop the engine and wait to save fuel,’ he added, as per The Independent.
Fortunately, they brought some oranges with them for the trip – nine days later, they were forced to survive ‘only on rainwater and coconuts and our faith in God, because we prayed day and night’, Nanjikana said, with the two men using a canvas to trap rainwater.
29 days: Nanjikana & Qoloni’s big drift https://t.co/DqiGqMLTqo
— Ples Singsing (@PlesSingsing) October 8, 2021
By the time they reached the 27th day, they finally caught sight of an island in the distance – however, they realised they were in Papua New Guinea. ‘We didn’t know where we were but did not expect to be in another country,’ Nanjikana said.
Two days later, they managed to just about make it to the island with barely any fuel. ‘It was then that we shouted and continually waved our hands to the fisherman that he saw us and paddled towards us,’ he continued, saying they then realised they were safe.
‘The fisherman was a nice man. When we reached land, our bodies felt weak so we were carried by men to the house. We were later fed with good foods such as taro, pawpaw and other vegetables which made us regain our strength.’
While surely a frightening experience, Nanjikana savoured being away from it all. ‘I had no idea what was going on while I was out there. I didn’t hear about COVID or anything else. I look forward to going back home but I guess it was a nice break from everything,’ he said.