Castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga shares how he survived 13 months at sea

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MAJURO, MARSHALL ISLANDS – If you think it sounds like something straight out of a movie, you’re right. But according to officials in the tiny island state of the Marshall Islands, it’s true. 37-year-old Jose Salvador Alvarenga washed ashore, battered and bruised after spending 13-months adrift in the Pacific Ocean.

“Twice, I thought a couple of time about killing myself,” he told reporters in the capitol city of Majuro after being rescued along the coast. “When food and water ran out, I got depressed and I would grab the knife and contemplate killing myself.”

The real-life castaway says he and 23-year-old Ezequiel Cordova set to sea in November 2012 to fish off the coast of Tapachula, Mexico when a sudden storm damaged their engines and blew their boat off course. With no way to maneuver, the men were left to drift. Thirteen months and more than 6,000 miles later, the tattered boat landed in the Marshall Islands with only one man aboard.

“I didn’t think I was going to die,” Alvarenga said. “I always thought I was going to make it out alive. I told myself I had to remain strong.”

The El Salvador native says he survived by eating fish and raw birds and oftentimes drinking his own urine. Cordova wasn’t so lucky. According to Alvarenga, his fishing partner starved a little more than a month into the journey after refusing to eat birds and drink urine. Jose he says it was his faith in God that saw him through.

Officials say once he is healthy enough to travel, he will be repatriated back to El Salvador where it’s not likely he’ll get anywhere near the ocean for a long while to come.