Story highlights

NEW: Louis Jordan says his sailboat capsized three times

NEW: He survived by collecting rainwater and eating raw fish

Frank Jordan told CNN his son isn't an experienced sailor but has a strong will

CNN  — 

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.

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

“I was utterly thankful and grateful to the people who rescued me, and I was grateful to God that my parents were not going to be worried about me,” Jordan told CNN.

Frank Jordan told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer 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.

“He’s got very strong constitution and (is strong) not only physically, but spiritually,” Frank Jordan 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, which had snapped.

“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.”

The boat capsized two more times before he was rescued, according to Jordan.


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.

Back on land

Jodran came ashore Thursday evening.

CNN affiliate WAVY in Norfolk, Virginia, reported that he was able to walk from the helicopter into Sentara Norfolk General Hospital at about 7:30 p.m.

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’s Chandler Friedman contributed to this report.