PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) — Louis Jordan says he survived 66 days at sea by capturing rainwater in a bucket, snagging little fish to catch bigger fish, and praying to God.
On Friday, a day after he was found, the 37-year-old bearded man walked out of a Norfolk hospital grateful for his good fortune and showing no obvious ill effects.
"We were expecting worse with blisters and severe sunburn and dehydration," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Kyle McCollum, who had the first contact with the sailor.
Jordan was plucked out of the Atlantic Ocean about 200 miles off the North Carolina coast on Thursday afternoon by a German-flagged container ship.
The mast of Jordan's 35-foot sailboat had broken off in heavy weather, and the vessel appeared to have flipped over multiple times, said the ship's captain, Thomas Grenz. His boat was upright at the time he was found, Grenz said.
Jordan was unclear how long after leaving port his boat first capsized, said Petty Officer David Weydert, a Coast Guard spokesman.
Jordan demonstrated a firm handshake and weary-looking blue eyes before declining an interview with The Associated Press on Friday. He told WAVY-TV in Portsmouth, Virginia, (http://bit.ly/1FpmfUd ) he rationed his water and energy to keep going.
"Every day I was like, 'Please God, send me some rain, send me some water,'" he said.
Jordan had been living on his 1950s-era boat at a marina in Conway, South Carolina, near Myrtle Beach, until January. He told his family he was going into open water to sail and fish, said his mother, Norma Davis.
Jordan told WAVY that he was traveling north when his boat hit bad weather. He said he saw a wave crash into his window, and the boat eventually filled with water.
He said he rationed his water to about a pint a day, but "for such a long a time I was so thirsty."
Jordan said that at one point he was flying through the air, and he thinks he broke his shoulder.
McCollum, a member of the Coast Guard helicopter rescue crew, said Jordan had slight bruising on his right clavicle when he was found, but it did not appear serious: "He was moving that arm so fluidly, without any skip and there wasn't any sign of pain in his face as he was moving."
On Jan. 29, the Coast Guard in Miami was notified by his father, Frank Jordan, that he hadn't seen or heard from his son in a week, agency spokeswoman Marilyn Fajardo said.
Alerts were issued from New Jersey to Miami, according to the Coast Guard. Officials searched financial data to determine whether Jordan had come ashore without being noticed, but they found no such indication, Fajardo said.
A search began Feb. 8, but Fajardo said the Coast Guard abandoned it after 10 days. Some sailors reporting seeing Jordan's boat, but no sightings were confirmed.
Grenz said Jordan told him he'd left Charleston, South Carolina, with about a month's worth of provisions. Jordan described learning to catch fish with his hands after finding the creatures attracted to the clothes he was soaking in salt water to get clean.
Grenz said he made a copy of Jordan's U.S. passport describing the American as weighing 290 pounds. Jordan now was probably only about 200 pounds and he looked little like the man in the passport photo, Grenz said.
"It was a bit like the movie of Tom Hanks on that movie, you know, Castaway," Grenz said.
Associated Press writers Allen Breed in Jacksonville, North Carolina; Bruce Smith in Charleston, South Carolina; Pam Ramsey in Charleston, West Virginia; and Tom Foreman Jr. in Charlotte, North Carolina, contributed to this report.