Indonesian teenager Aldi Novel Adilang survived a harrowing 49 days adrift at sea. The teenager worked for a fishing company, and his job was to light the lamp on a rompong. Rompongs are hut-like fishing traps that are anchored to the sea bed by ropes. Adilang’s job was to light a lamp that attracted fish to the trap.
In June, heavy winds caused the ropes to snap and took the rompong out to sea. The rompong has neither paddles nor engines, as it isn’t meant to be used as a vehicle.
Aldi Novel Adilang Adrift
Adilang’s company would periodically bring him supplies and fuel for his small gas stove. His job was already quite solitary, as the fishing trap is moored far off the coast of Indonesia.
When the moorings were broken, the trap was low on supplies. In order to survive, Adilang had to get creative. He used some of the wood of the rompong itself to cook fish that he caught. As for water, he says that he was able to sip seawater through his clothes to filter out the salt.
After more than a month adrift and having more than 10 ships sail past him without noticing him, Adilang did his best to remain hopeful. He says that during his time adrift, he was uplifted by reading the Bible that he kept on the rompong.
Adilang was thankfully finally seen by Panamanian ship MV Arpeggio, using the lamps on the rompong and his clothes to get their attention. Adilang says he even used his short-range radio to send an emergency signal to the ship. The vessel’s attempts to rescue him were complicated by his relative weakness from his ordeal and choppy waters.
When he was finally rescued, he was thousands of miles from home, off the coast of Gaum. After being rescued, the Arpeggio took him to Japan, where he recovered for two days in the Indonesian consulate there. Finally, he was sent via plane back home to his family. Adilang will turn 19 at the end of the month, but he has already survived a harrowing event lost at sea.