Man survived four days adrift at sea

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A 53-year-old man from Stavanger was grateful to be alive this week, after a routine fishing trip during his summer holiday turned into a harrowing experience adrift in the North Sea.

Inge Jansen’s ordeal began last Wednesday, when he set off alone in his 22-foot plastic boat for what was supposed to be a short fishing trip from his holiday cabin at Hommersåk. Jansen suddenly suffered a fainting spell onboard, however, while heading back to his cabin.

No one home to miss him
When he regained consciousness, he was out in open sea. The strong currents of the North Sea had carried his boat northwards, while its motor had kept running. Jansen found himself out of fuel, with nothing to drink and with a mobile telephone that had run out of battery power.

His wife and daughter, meanwhile, were traveling in Spain and friends knew he was on holiday at the cabin as well, so there was no one to report him missing.

“It was gruesome out there,” Jansen told local Stavanger website Aftenbladet.no. “The worst of all was the thirst. I had some sausages with me, but it was something to drink that I missed most. I was dreaming of ice cold water, a glass of milk or a cola.”

After several days of drifting and being afraid to sleep, because of fear he’d miss the chance of seeing another vessel that he could try to hail, he gave in to temptation and gurgled some sea water “even though I knew that drinking salt water was the dumbest thing I could do. I was just so dehydrated.

“When everything seems hopeless, you just don’t think straight.”

Drifted towards an oil field
His boat drifted north towards the Gjøa oil field offshore between Bergen and Florø, and that’s what ultimately saved him. Crew on board a supply ship serving platforms on the field, the Normand Draupne, spotted his small boat in the early morning hours of Sunday, sent out a signal and managed to pick up both Jansen and his boat.

“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything better in my life,” Jansen said from his hospital bed in Førde where he was getting treatment for dehydration. “It was fantastic to be picked up by the supply boat, indescribable. Pure joy.”

By that time he was 280 kilometers from where he’d gone fishing. Rescue experts at Norway’s main search and rescue center for Southern Norway said Jansen had been incredibly lucky.

“It’s like he won a lottery at least twice,” Owe Frøland of Hovedredningssentralen Sør-Norge told Aftenbladet. All, including Jansen and the supply ship’s crew, said it was pure chance that they happened to spot him. He was due to be released from hospital on Monday.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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