The well-fed castaways of “Gilligan’s Island” couldn’t have handled it better.
Despite losing themselves at sea for nearly a month, two men from the Solomon Islands have returned from a harrowing rescue with a remarkably positive outlook.
“It was a nice break from everything,” said Livae Nanjikana, who set out with friend Junior Qoloni from Mono Island on Sept. 3, The Guardian reported on Friday. Equipped with only a small, 60-horsepower motorboat and a sack of oranges for snacking, the pair planned a route headed 200 kilometers south to the town of Noro, New Georgia Island, within the Solomon archipelago of New Guinea — a trip they’ve taken in the past.
When rough skies challenged their navigational system, the sailors decided to wait out the storm, turning off their engine to conserve fuel until they could resume course. But heavy rains and wind would blow their rudderless vessel off-course, and down their GPS altogether — sending them to float about 400 kilometers northwest of their starting point on Mono Island.
“We didn’t know where we were but did not expect to be in another country,” said Nanjikana, who would survive 29 days with Qoloni eating the citrus they’d brought, plus coconuts scooped from the sea and rainwater collected on the boat.
They arrived in the town of Pomio, in New Britain, Papua New Guinea, on Oct. 2, after their stranded party was spotted by a fisherman that evening, according to the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.
They’ve since been assessed by doctors and are convalescing with Pomio resident Joe Koleal, who told SIBC this week that the men now “live happily with us.”
Coronavirus pandemic travel restrictions, as well as their currently fragile health, have prevented Nanjikana and Qoloni from returning to the Solomon Islands for the time being, while Island officials are reportedly making arrangements for their safe return home.
“I had no idea what was going on while I was out there. I didn’t hear about Covid or anything else,” said Nanjikana “I look forward to going back home but I guess it was a nice break from everything.”