Fisherman Ron Ingraham ate fish to sustain himself during the nearly two weeks he was lost at sea in waters off of Hawaii. A U.S. Navy destroyer rescued 67-year-old Ingraham on Tuesday, after he made a last-ditch mayday call on his twelfth day adrift.
Ingraham left Molokai on Thanksgiving Day and ran into bad weather that pushed his 25-foot sailboat off course, according to CNN. “I tried all through the night. I couldn’t make it. I was going backwards all night long,” he said. That same night, a huge wave dismasted the boat and knocked Ingraham overboard. He was able to pull himself back on board with a rope. Ingraham made two distress calls indicating that his craft was taking on water. Then his radio died.
Coast Guard cutters and aircraft searched a 12,000 square mile area and failed to find him. After four days, the Coast Guard called off the search, believing Ingraham’s boat had sunk.
Still afloat, Ingraham rigged an emergency mast and sustained himself on fish. “I was way out there, and I was out of water, but I hydrated on fish,” he said. “I’m a fisherman, so I caught fish. It wasn’t as good as a sushi bar.”
Finally, Ingraham was able to get his radio working and send another distress signal. The Coast Guard received the signal and sent the nearest ship in the area, the USS Paul Hamilton, to the rescue. Ingraham was found tired, hungry, and dehydrated, but alive, and he insisted that his boat, which is both his workplace and his home, be towed the 64 miles back to shore.
The ordeal reunited Ingraham and his son, Zakary, who had not spoken to one another in 20 years. Zakary received a call from the Coast Guard when the search was first called off, and they told him they feared his father’s boat had sunk. “I don’t feel like he’s dead,” Zakary replied. “I don’t feel it.” And he was right. Asked if his 67-year-old father would slow down after being lost at sea, Zakary replied, “I’m sure he’s going to go fishing as soon as he’s able. Like tomorrow.”