Three Kiwi Teens Survive 50 Day Ordeal At Sea
The Atafu Atoll, one of the islands that make up Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand, is celebrating the safe return of three teenagers, thought to have perished at sea, almost three months ago.
14-year old Etueni Nasau and his two 15-year old cousins, Samuel Pelesa and Filo Filo took off in a small 12-foot boat, sometime in late September. However, what was supposed to be a short hop to the neighboring island, turned out to be an 800-mile, 50-day ordeal.
Soon after they left, the small boat, which the locals call tinnie, ran out of gas and drifted away from not only their destination, but also, away from all land. As night fell, the three nervously dined on the few fresh coconuts they had brought along for a snack and hoped that things would look better in the morning.
But the boat kept going through day and night with not a speck of land in sight. During the day, they suffered through the hot tropical sun, while at night they were subjected to bouts violent thunderstorms and rain. While terrifying, these were a saving grace since they at least provided them with puddles of fresh water. To keep the boat from capsizing during high tides, the three placed themselves at the bottom and held on to the sides.
Food however, was hard to come by. With the coconuts gone, the three boys scrounged around for whatever they could find - Every now and again, small flying fish would provide a meager meal. Their biggest meal during the entire time was a bird they managed to capture with their bare hands, as it perched on the side of the boat.
A few days before their rescue, things got even worse. The rains stopped, forcing the three to drink small amounts of seawater to quench their thirst. However, before they got really sick, a deep-sea tuna boat on its way to New Zealand, caught sight of the little boat floating around. Curious as to what it was doing so far out in the ocean, the crew drew closer and saw the three bedraggled boys waving for help.
The trio, who by this point had drifted 800 miles from their home, were rescued and promptly taken to the nearby island of Fiji for treatment. Miraculously, besides being underfed, none of them have suffered any long-term effects from the ordeal - In fact, Pelesa and Filo were released from the hospital within 24 hours. While the boys will have to wait for two weeks to take a boat back to their remote homeland, they are looking forward to reuniting with their loved ones and, being treated like the true heroes they all are.