It is really amazing how this man survived the vast ocean in 133 days! Believe it or not, this is what happened and how he faced this kind of difficult ordeal.
What happened to him is similar to the movie Castaway but unlike in Castaway where the survivor lived and survived in an island, he only survived in a wooden raft floating and swaying in an endless sea water.
This event happened during World War II and Poon Lim, a second steward on the British armed merchant ship SS Ben Lomond, is the man behind this tragic incident.
SS Ben Lomond ship was on its way from Cape Town to Suriname and New York and was slow moving because it was armed. Also, it sailed alone unlike the usual convoy sailing.
There are total of fifty-four ship crews of SS Ben Lomond including eight gunners, the master, 44 crews and Poon Lim.
As they travel along some 750 miles east of Amazon, their ship was intercepted and struck by a German military submarine with two torpedoes without mercy.
Ben Lomond sunk barely within two minutes and before the ship’s boiler exploded, he hurriedly took a life jacket and jumped overboard.
Unfortunately, all of his crewmates was not able to make it, making him ultimately the only one to survive the attack.
After two hours of floating in the water, Poon found an 8’ square of wooden raft. He climbed aboard and found a 40-liter jug of water, some chocolate, some biscuits, a bag of sugar lumps, some flares, and a flashlight.
As we know, staying in the middle of the sea is frightening because you cannot last the sun heat and when a storm came, which causes huge waves, it drifts and destroy everything.
Poon was able to keep himself alive by drinking the water and eating the foods he found in the raft, but as the time goes by, nothing was left and he resorted to fishing and catching rain water using his lifejacket cover.
Poon actually could not swim very well so in order to survive, he took the wire from the flashlight to make a fish hook to catch fish.
A large storm hit and his water was fouled, he was barely alive and to quench his thirst, he drank the blood of fish that he caught.
On several days of floating in a vast sea, he was passed by and seen by some vessels but did not rescue him despite of his proficient shouts.
Few days later, he noticed that the color of water had changed and it is no longer a deep oceanic blue. He realized that he was nearing a land and fortunately, he was seen and was rescued by three Brazilian fishermen and took him to the city three days later.
Poon Lim lost 9 kilograms during his ordeal. He spent four weeks in a hospital and afterwards, King George VI bestowed a British Empire Medal on him and his tale was incorporated into manuals of survival techniques of Royal Navy.
Some tried to break his 133days record but no one had ever survived like he does, especially in a raft.
Poon lost his life in Brooklyn on January 4, 1991. He once said, “I hope no one will ever have to break that record.”