Sailor pulled out of 17-days limbo in sea desert

A sailor spent more than two weeks stranded on a deserted island without food, water and hope after his fishing boat was wrecked by storm. He was found by the rescuers on a tiny piece of land of a size of a football field surrounded by ice-cold sea.

The 25-year-old monastery fellow was on a regular assignment in the sea – he was collecting seaweed off the Solovetsky Islands in Russia’s White Sea. After his vessel was wrecked by stormy waves, he managed to reach the nearest land – an uninhabited landmass around 100 meters long, the size of a soccer pitch.

“He was caught by the storm, and his longboat was turned upside down and thrown on to the cliffs. The man made it to the nearest shore and survived,” said in the local Emergencies Ministry office, according to LifeNews.ru website.

The castaway was hiding from chilling winds in a cave he dug with bare hands. He grabbed a few stones and logs he could find to reinforce the makeshift dwelling. Having nothing but seaweed to eat and rain water to drink, Sergey Ganushev managed to hold out for 17 days in temperatures close to zero degrees Celsius!

He almost lost hope and did not leave his cave in the last few days. Sergey was about to slash his wrists at that moment, he later told the rescuers. Only the coming helicopter’s sound drew him out. He almost could not move, he was so weak.

“My boat started leaking. Then a storm started and the boat turned over. I swam to a small island. When I got there the boat crashed on rocks. I spent seventeen days on the island. I had a mobile phone, but it was wet and did not work. I had no food and water. It was very scary,” Ganushev said. “For the first ten days I was watching the vessels go by in the distance, but when I realized that no-one saw me, I gave up on that. I did not hope anyone would come for me. I didn’t come out of my ‘cave’ for the last three days. When I heard the helicopter, I wasn’t sure whether I should go out or not. But I did, and I saw the helicopter and started waving.”

Rescuers took him to the nearest city of Arkhangelsk for medical assistance.

“His condition is described as serious, but not critical. He’s highly atrophied and suffered hypothermia,” said the Rescue Service spokesman.

Rescuers were amazed that nobody had informed them about the disappearance of this worker.

He was saved by mere coincidence. The chopper was in search of two other shipwrecked men who lost connection with the Solovetsky Monastery on October 13.

The island Sergey Ganushev lived on after the shipwreck. Image from mchs.gov.ru
The island Sergey Ganushev lived on after the shipwreck. Image from mchs.gov.ru

The search for those disappeared sailors continues in the White Sea. Rescuers are looking for two monks who left Solovetsky Island on October 13 in a high-speed boat which was not designed for open-sea traveling. They say the ship had live-saving equipment and water supplies though.

Earlier on Monday, the body of one of the sailors was reportedly found. However there were no signs of his partner. The boat itself was also found by fishermen wrecked near one of the Islands of the Archipelago.

Solovetsky Monastery is the biggest in the Russian North. Founded in 1436, it was turned into a special Soviet prison and labor camp in 1926–1939, which served as a prototype for the Gulag system. Solovetsky Monastery has always been an economic and political center of the White Sea Region and is now one of the most exotic tourist attractions in Russia.