Life of Aldi: 49 days in sea without food, without water

It was about 10 times that ships sailed past him, but none of them stopped or spotted him.

The Hush Post: Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Ang Lee’s ‘Pi’ in Hollywood blockbuster Life of Pi were a work of fiction. But Aldi Novel Adilang is not. This 19-year-old survived 49 days in sea. All alone, all by himself. All these days, he had nothing to eat but plenty of sea water around him to couldn’t quench his thirst.

The Indonesian lad worked as a lamp keeper for a floating fish trap called Rompong, 125 kms out at the sea. He had human contact once in a week and walkie-talkie to establish contact on the land.

But one fateful day on July 14, hard wind blew him thousands of kilometers away from home in North Sulawesi to Guam waters. The lucky young man however managed to survive for 49 days until a ship spotted him.

The young man, however, survived for 49 days, until a Panama-flagged vessel, Arpeggio, rescued him in Guam waters. Before that, more than 10 ships had sailed past Aldi, failing to spot him as he waved for help.

According to the Jakarta Post, when Aldi was working on the Rompong, he was provided weekly rations but the supplies exhausted after some days. As he was drifting away he caught fish to stave off hunger and drank sea water.

“After he ran out of the cooking gas, he burned the rompong’s wooden fences to make a fire for cooking. He drank by sipping water from his clothes that had been wetted by sea water, The Jakarta Post quoted The Indonesian consul general in Osaka, Mirza Nurhidayat, who oversaw the return of Aldi after his rescue.

“Aldi said he had been scared and often cried while adrift,” said another diplomat of the consulate.

It was about 10 times that ships sailed past him, but none of them stopped or spotted him. Then on 31 August, a Panama-flagged vessel, Arpeggio, sailed past him. Aldi waved his cloth for help but in vain. Then Aldi suddenly tuned his radio to a frequency as one of his friends had told him once. Luckily the ship’s captain caught the signal.

Aldi was rescued.

Since the vessel was enroute Japan, it reached there on September 7 and Aldi flew back from Japan to Jakarta the next day.


Now Aldi is back with his family in Wori, Manado, and in the pink of health.


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