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Sailor lands on Reunion Island after months adrift

Mar 1, 2018

Anyone who’s spent a lot of time on a sailboat can probably recall some uncomfortable voyages. Hopefully they’re nothing like what Zbigniew Reket endured in the Indian Ocean.

Reket, 54, landed on Reunion Island east of Madagascar on Christmas Day, more than six months after he left the Comoros Islands for Durban, South Africa, in a covered lifeboat that had been fitted with a sailing rig.

According to news accounts from around the world, the vessel’s engine died early in the voyage, which he made with a cat named Samira. He reportedly survived by catching fish and eating noodles.

“We drifted toward the Somali coast, then toward the Maldives and then Indonesia,” he told reporters in Reunion. “I sighted land several times but I never managed to steer toward it. I spotted several ships, but the battery on my radio was dead.”
 

The French Coast Guard apparently rescued Reket’s craft after another vessel spotted it near Reunion on Christmas Eve. Photos show his vessel being towed into sunny Reunion on Christmas Day.

Reket, who is a Polish national, set out from India almost three years ago for Indonesia in the lifeboat rigged with a mast, engine and rudder. But he ended up in Comoros after his mast broke and he reportedly drifted across the Indian Ocean.

He said he spent two years in the Comoros before setting out for Durban.

Reket’s fantastic account has drawn skepticism. Regardless, as of late last year he remained in Reunion, and might decide to stay put. He told local reporters he wants to find a job and live a normal life.

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