HARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A man reported missing at sea two months ago was rescued on the overturned hull of his sailboat 200 miles off the North Carolina coast and said he got by by rationing his water and energy and praying for help.
"Every day I was like, 'Please God, send me some rain, send me some water,'" Louis Jordan, 37, told WAVY-TV (http://bit.ly/1FpmfUd).
The crew of a German-flagged container ship found Jordan on his single-masted 35-foot boat on Thursday afternoon.
Neither he nor the Coast Guard said exactly when during the journey the vessel capsized. Jordan managed to catch and eat fish during his ordeal, according to the Coast Guard, and despite a shoulder injury and dehydration, arrived at a hospital in good condition and refused treatment, family members and authorities said.
Jordan said he initially did not believe the container ship was real when he saw it. He said the ship's crew did not see him until he began waving his arms.
"I waved my hands real slowly, and that's the signal 'I'm in distress. Help me,'" he told WAVY. "I blew my whistles. I had three whistles. They never heard them. I turned my American flag upside down and put that up. That says, 'Rescue me.'"
Jordan had been living on his 1950s-era boat at a marina in Conway, South Carolina, near Myrtle Beach, until January, when he told his family he was going into open water to sail and do some fishing, said his mother, Norma Davis. He set out Jan. 23, Coast Guard officials said, and hadn't been heard from since.
The details of Jordan's whereabouts over the 66 days he was missing and how he might have survived were still unclear, said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss.
"We don't know where he capsized," Doss said. "We really won't know what happened to him out there until we talk to him" at length, he added, but said Jordan ate fish he caught.
Jordan told WAVY that he was traveling north when his boat hit bad weather. He said he saw a wave crash into his window, and the boat eventually filled with water. He said at one point he was flying through the air and he thinks he broke his shoulder.
He said he rationed his water to about a pint a day, but "for such a long a time I was so thirsty."
The Coast Guard in Miami was notified by his father, Frank Jordan, on Jan. 29 that he hadn't seen or heard from his son in a week, Coast Guard spokeswoman Marilyn Fajardo said.
Alerts were issued from New Jersey to Miami to be on the lookout for Jordan and his sailboat, according to the Coast Guard. Officials also searched financial data to determine whether Jordan had come ashore without being noticed, but they found no such indication, Fajardo said.
A search began Feb. 8, but Fajardo said the Coast Guard abandoned it after 10 days. Some sailors reporting seeing Jordan's boat, but none of the sightings were confirmed.
The Coast Guard said Jordan didn't file a "float plan," the nautical equivalent of a flight plan, with his route or destination.
"We're elated that he survived. We were never able to determine where he was headed," Doss said. "Without that as part of the equation, it was difficult to come up with a search area."
In a Coast Guard audio recording of his first post-rescue contact with his father, Jordan said, "I haven't heard you in so long."
Frank Jordan told him: "I'm so glad that you're still alive. We prayed and prayed and we hoped that you were still alive, so that's all that matters."