A Kiribati policeman who became stranded on a fishing boat with his brother-in-law told the crew members of the Marshall Islands ship that rescued him how his four-month ordeal finally came to an end thanks to the aid of a friendly shark.
On May 27th, 41-year-old Toakai Teitoi set sail from the Pacific atoll of Tarawa on his way home to Maiana after graduating from police academy.
But he and his 52-year-old brother-in-law Ielu Falaile and their 15-foot wooden boat never made it back.
Along the way, the two stopped to fish and decided to spend the night at sea. When they awoke the next day, they realized there was no land in sight. Worse still, the boat had run out of fuel.
"We had food, but the problem was we had nothing to drink," Teitoi is quoted as saying.
Things got progressively more dire for the duo every day, until Falaile eventually succumbed to dehydration and passed away in early July. As cruel fate would have it, rain began following the very next day, and didn't let up for a week, giving Teitoi ample time to stock up on water.
From then on, Teitoi spent most of his time praying or curling up in the boat's small covered area to avoid exposing himself to the sun.
On September 11th, Teitoi spotted a fishing boat some distance away from his position. With no way to contact the other vessel, Teitoi returned to the covered bow to rest.
A few hours later he was suddenly roused from his sleep by the sound of an object striking the hull. He looked over and saw a six-foot shark that quickly swam away.
That's when he lifted his eyes and saw the boat that eventually saved him.
"He was guiding me to a fishing boat," Teitoi said. "I looked up and there was the stern of a ship and I could see crew with binoculars looking at me."
He was brought aboard the Marshalls 203 and given food, juice, and a medical evaluation. Surprisingly, Teitoi appeared to be in relatively good shape for someone who had been stranded at sea for 15 weeks.
The boat continued along its fishing route, eventually docking in Majuro.
Teitoi, who was scheduled to fly back home yesterday, told reporters his days of sea travel are over: "I'll never go by boat again. I'm taking a plane."