A Polish sailor who says he spent seven months adrift in the Indian ocean with only his cat for company in a broken-down boat has been rescued by the French coast guard.
Zbigniew Reket, 54, said that he and his cat survived for months on half a packet of Chinese soup per day – as well as what he caught by fishing – before he was rescued near the island of Reunion on Christmas Day.
He said that his destination in May upon leaving the Comoros Islands – off the coast of Mozambique – was South Africa. Investigators are now trying to piece together his itinerary and his story which they say are impossible to verify.
Zbigniew Reket, 54, rescuers said he was undernourished but otherwise in good health
Zbigniew Reket set off for South Africa in May but was found at Christmas way off course
Mr Reket (R) was rescued in becalmed waters in the Indian Ocean on Christmas Day
Mr Reket spent seven months adrift in the Indian ocean
The journey is more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) and would have involved him sailing through the Mozambique Channel, a busy shipping route with strong currents.
Mr Reket’s vessel is a modified lifeboat originally from a cruise ship.
But he was blown off course instead of reaching South Africa and had to be plucked from the waves near the French island of Reunion after he was spotted by a yacht crew.
The sailor said the instruments on his boat had been smashed because of big waves and that he had no means of communication.
‘We drifted towards the Somali coast, then towards the Maldives, and then Indonesia again,’ he said.
‘Several times I could see land but I could never steer towards it. I spotted several ships but the battery on my radio was dead.’
The sailor was recently able to stand on land for the first time in months
Investigators are now checking out the veracity of Mr Reket’s remarkable survival story
Mr Reket was towed to safety by the French navy
He said his sea adventures started in 2014 when he travelled to India from his home in the United States and bought his boat with the intention of sailing it back to Poland.
After spending time modifying it, the boat broke down soon after leaving port because of a problem with its mast.
We drifted towards the Somali coast, then towards the Maldives, and then Indonesia again
The sailor said that he drifted for days in the Indian Ocean before washing up on the Comoros Islands.
His rescuers said he was undernourished but otherwise in good health.
A local charity is now helping him with clothes and food, and authorities are checking out his story, which local media say appears to be plausible.
Mr Reket was reported as saying said he would consider saying on Reunion, which as an EU citizen he is entitled to do.
“I want to have a normal life, find a job, and why not stay here?” he asked.