Indonesian Teen Survives 49 Days Adrift With Nothing But a Bible

Image of ship out to sea

The common question “If you were stranded on a deserted island and only had one item to bring with you, what would it be?” really applies to this story you’re about to read.

While he wasn’t stranded on a deserted island, Aldi Novel Adilang did find himself solely adrift on the Pacific after a storm came through and ripped his fishing vessel from its moorings.

As a lamp keeper for a floating fish trap, before the incident, he was out about 125 kilometers out at sea, and only communicated with humans via a walkie-talkie once a week. His job was to makes sure the lamps were lit at night in order to attract fish for a period of six months. The Jakarta Post had described his job as “one of the loneliest jobs in the world.” And sadly, it got even lonelier after the accident. 

Aldi, who’s just 19 years old, was alone at sea for a whopping 49 days, and out of all of his belongings, all he had left was his Bible.

As you can imagine, time can move awfully slowly when you aren’t sure if you’re going to survive and don’t have basically anything with you. But Aldi would spend his afternoons reading his Bible and survived off catching fish and drinking sea water (which he drank by sipping water from his clothes). He also made a makeshift shower out of bamboo sticks.

In those 49 days, Aldi not only encountered a shark, but also more than 10 ships sailing past him, none of which noticed he was there, despite him waving his clothes and ferociously flashing the lamps. While he did find himself in tears a lot, he still tried to remain positive. 

The storm occurred on July 14 and Aldi wasn’t rescued until August 31 when he was spotted in waters off Guam by a Panama-registered bulk freighter, MV Arpeggio. He brought him to Japan, which is where he was on his way to, where he was reunited with his family and offered help by consular officials.

Jefri Sagune, the chairman of the Indonesian Small Fishermen Association, stated that GPS tracking device for fishermen should be available “so that when they are lost, it will be easier to track them down.” Hopefully that’s something that can be invented soon.

We can’t believe Aldi survived as long as he did with as little as he did, but glad he’s safe and sound. Can you believe someone could survive with just a Bible and the clothes on his back for 49 straight days? What do you think of this story?