Vietnamese fishermen save American sailor stranded at sea for a month

By Minh Minh   February 5, 2018 | 08:52 pm PT
The exhausted man was found clinging to his boat after it was hit by a storm off the coast of Japan.

A U.S. sailor who was stranded on his damaged vessel for more than a month at sea arrived safely back on dry land in central Vietnam on Sunday.

Fishermen from the region found the exhausted Rimas Meleshyus, 67, in mid-January and took him on board for the remainder of their trip.

The Russian-born sailor started his Pacific journey in Hawaii in May 2017. His boat was hit by a storm near Yokohama, Japan in December, he said on his Facebook page.

He said that by the time he was rescued, he was out of water and had little food left.

He would not have survived longer than a few more days, he said via an interpreter, as cited by Tuoi Tre.

The man appeared healthy when the fishing boat docked at Tien Sa Port in Da Nang on Sunday afternoon.

Vo Van Bich, one of the fishermen who found him, said they spotted him waving a shirt from his boat on the morning of January 17.

“He was so tired he was crawling on the deck,” Bich said, as cited by Tuoi Tre.

Bich said they used a coracle to transfer the American, his papers and several electronic devices to their ship.

They were only three days into the trip at the time and could not return to shore, so they allowed Meleshyus to travel with them, he said.

The fishermen said they took turns to feed him milk and soft food, and helped him every time he had to use the toilet.

Rimas Meleshyus (in yellow) poses with the Vietnamese fishers who saved him in a photo that he shared on Facebook.

Rimas Meleshyus (in yellow) poses with the Vietnamese fishermen who saved him in a photo that he shared on Facebook.

“Vietnam is a very friendly and beautiful country,” Meleshyus said on his Facebook page, where he has shared many photos of him and “the fishers who saved my life.”

He is now staying at a hotel in Da Nang and is expected to receive further support from the city’s foreign affairs department.

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