Nowadays, due to the invention of the cellphone, people have constant contact with their loved ones. For those who keep their electronic devices glued to their hands, not communicating with someone for more than an hour during the day might be a rarity.
Remarkably, an Indonesian teen recently survived an ordeal that kept him isolated from others and floating at sea for a heart-wrenching 49 days. This resourceful young man, Aldi Novel Adilang, credits his miraculous survival to reading his Bible and catching fish from the ocean.
Even before his adventure at sea, Adilang lived a solitary existence. For the six months leading up to him becoming stranded, the 19-year-old was the sole employee who worked on a rompong — a fish collecting device that resembles a small hut. Supported by buoys and anchored to the ocean’s floor with a long rope, rompongs float in the middle of the sea. The owner of the contraption hired Adilang to light lamps around it using a power generator each night to attract fish. The young man completed this task for six months.
Each week, the owner sent someone to the rompong in order to harvest the fish in the trap and provide Adilang with a week’s worth of clean water, food, fuel for the generator, and gas for cooking. On July 14, 2018, a storm snapped the rope anchoring Adilang’s seafaring residence to the ocean floor off the coast of Manado, Indonesia. Manado is located in the Northeast part of the country, approximately 1,300 miles from the capital city of Jakarta.
During his ordeal, the 19-year-old saw several passing ships. Despite flashing the lamps and waving his clothing, the young man floating on the rompong went undetected. Finally, on August 31, 2018, the Panama-registered cargo ship MV Arpeggio noticed Adilang in waters off of Guam. However, at first, the ship didn’t see him. When it sailed past Adilang, the young man turned his radio to a frequency a friend had instructed him to utilize if he was ever stranded at sea and spotted a large ship. Thankfully, the MV Arpeggio’s captain heard the signal. Understanding someone needed help, the captain turned the ship around. Because the waves were high that day, the MV Arpeggio encountered difficulty getting close to the 19-year-old.
After the ship circled Adilang four times, someone threw out a rope. But, it didn’t reach the young man’s rompong. So, the brave 19-year-old jumped into the sea and swam to the rope. Once Adilang was aboard the ship, the crew first provided him with a towel and a snack. Then, he was given fresh clothing and more food. The ship’s cook generously gave the teen a haircut. The young man was taken to Japan where the ship was headed. Adilang arrived in the country on September 6, 2018. In Japan, he recuperated with the assistance of consular officials. Adilang was sent home where he reunited with his family on September 9, 2018.
On September 24, 2018, a diplomat at the Indonesian consulate in Osaka, Japan, Fajar Firdaus, informed the Jakarta Post, “Every time he saw a large ship, he said he was hopeful, but more than 10 ships had sailed past him, none of them stopped or saw Aldi.” At one point in his perilous travels, the 19-year-old used up all of his cooking gas. He improvised by burning the fishing trap’s wooden fencing to make a fire for cooking. To stay hydrated, he consumed water by sipping on his wet clothing. Adilang informed reporters that he crafted a shower from sticks of bamboo.
When he was being circled by a shark one time, the young man said, “I could only pray that the shark went away.” Firdaus stated, “Aldi said he had been scared and often cried while adrift.” The 19-year-old revealed to local reporters that he established a routine while he was stranded at sea on the rompong. He said his mornings were spent catching fish and his afternoons were filled with Bible reading.
~ 1776 Christian