April 5, 1943 – Today was the day that Poon Lim finally made it to land. He had been adrift for 133 days in a small life raft.
Lim was a Chinese sailor working as a steward on the British merchant ship, SS Ben Lomond. When a German U-Boat torpedoed the ship, Lim grabbed a life jacket and jumped overboard. He eventually found his way into a life raft that was stocked with some biscuits, water and other emergency supplies.
When all the food and water was gone, Lim resorted to catching his own meals with a fish hook he created from a bent nail. He ate sea turtles and sharks. He drank the blood of sea gulls. Somehow he survived.
There were a few instances when ships passed close to Lim, and on one occasion he believed that the men on the ship saw him but opted to do nothing once they realized he was Chinese.
He also told of an odd encounter with a U-Boat. The Germans on the submarine noticed Lim while they were testing artillery on a flock of sea gulls. Again, Lim was left to fend for himself in the vast South Atlantic.
After over 4 months adrift he paddled into a Brazilian river inlet. There he was rescued by some fishermen who brought him to safety.
In appreciation of his amazing survival at sea, he was awarded the British Empire Medal. He later emigrated to the United States where he lived the rest of his life.
His 133 days all alone in the life raft still stands as the longest ordeal survived by a single man at sea.