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Sailor lost at sea for 66 days rescued from boat off North Carolina coast

Posted at 5:02 PM, Apr 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-03 17:16:54-04

Norfolk, Va. - The last time Frank Jordan spoke with his son, Louis Jordan was fishing on a sailboat a few miles off the South Carolina coast.

The next time he spoke with him, more than two months had passed and the younger Jordan was on a German-flagged container ship 200 miles from North Carolina, just rescued from his disabled boat.

"I thought I lost you," the relieved father said.

37-year-old Louis took his 35-foot sailboat Angel out in late January and hadn't been heard from in 66 days when he was spotted Thursday afternoon by the ship Houston Express on his boat drifting in the Atlantic Ocean.

The sailboat capsized three separate times and suffered a broken mast during the ordeal.

Related: Stranded at sea? Follow this 7-step extreme survival guide

"You're laying down in bed and all of a sudden BOOM! out of nowhere like a huge cannonball wave just pounds right next to your head. Like right next to where I was laying," said Jordan. "It's really disturbing. It's really unsettling. Your nerves are like 'Whoah' You want to say every swear word you know and pray with all your might. 'Please save me' over and over."

Jordan said he feared he was going to die and got through those times with "lots of prayer."

"What sustained me was the Holy Bible. I read the book from front to back."

Frank Jordan said that he had worried about his son, who is an inexperienced sailor, but he held hope because his son had a good boat. And he had the strength to make it.

Audio from the first contact in 66 days between Frank Jordan and his son

"He's got very strong constitution and (is strong) not only physically, but spiritually," Frank told CNN. "And he told me on the phone that he was praying the whole time, so I believe that sustained him a great deal."

What happened?

The younger Jordan said he took his sailboat out to the Gulf Stream to find some better fishing, when it capsized. He broke his shoulder when the boat flipped.

Because of the injury, Jordan couldn't repair the boat's mast.

"Everything I owned got broken -- all my electronics, my GPS devices," Jordan said. He was dead in the water.

Jordan drifted in the Atlantic, rationing food and water until his shoulder healed.

He was able to rig a makeshift mast and sail, Jordan said, but he could make little headway against the currents.

"It took so long," he said. "It moved so slowly."

Survival

After his food and water ran out, it became an issue of survival.

Collecting fresh water was a nightmare for Jordan. The weather wouldn't cooperate.

"I had tried to collect (rain)water ... but every time the waves would splash into the boat," Jordan said. "The waves would put saltwater into my freshwater and it tasted bad.

"Finally the conditions were right. I filled up my water tank, which is 25 gallons. I filled up a bucket."

Then there was the issue of food.

The fish weren't cooperating, but after a while Jordan learned that they were attracted to his laundry that he would put out to sea for a rinse.

The fish would swim in and out of his clothes and he could easily scoop them up with a hand net, he said.

He also survived on seaweed and crabs.

"But I did collect a bunch of seaweed and I found that there were these little crabs, these little critters, living in the seaweed. They tasted dang good."

Jordan said when he wasn't living on seaweed and fish he was praying for pulled pork and organic ice cream.

He lost a total of 42 pounds during the ordeal.

Back on land

Jodran came ashore Thursday evening.

Jordan thanked his rescuers.

" I just patted him on the back and said thank you so much I really appreciate it. Let me work for you, let me do something for you. They're like 'No you just got rescued, you're probably exhausted. They wouldn't let me do anything. They said 'Take a shower'."

Jordan was reported missing January 29, a few days after his last contact with his father.

Two months of concern poured out in a phone call with his son's rescuers.

Frank Jordan thanked the captain of the Houston Express.

"You're a good man, I swear. You did what you are supposed to do, and I sure do appreciate it," he says. "And I know my son appreciates it."

CNN contributed to this story.