133 Days On A Raft

Average reading time is about 6 minutes
AN AMAZING FACT:  In November 1942, a 25-year-old Chinese seaman named Poon Lim was working as a steward on a British merchant ship called the S.S. Ben Lomond. After leaving Capetown, the vessel was torpedoed by a German U-boat near South Africa’s coast. As the ship sank, Poon Lim grabbed a life jacket and jumped overboard just as the ship’s boilers exploded. Poon Lim floated around naked in the Atlantic for two hours, then spotted an empty life raft and pulled himself aboard.

That was the beginning of one of the most amazing sagas of survival at sea ever recorded. He was thankful for the meager supplies in the life boat—a canvas sail, chocolate, a bag of sugar, some flares, a jug of water, a tin of hard biscuits, and a flashlight. Seven days into his ordeal, he frantically tried to get the attention of a ship, but it just passed by. Then he spotted seven U.S. Navy patrol planes. He sent up flares, but they did not see him. A German U-boat spotted him, but chose to leave him to fate instead of rescuing (or killing) him.

Poon Lim could have given up and died, but instead decided to use his skills and limited supplies to stay alive. He rationed himself a biscuit and few mouthfuls of water a day. He made a fish hook from the flashlight spring, used hemp from the rope line, and a piece of biscuit for bait. When he caught a fish, he cut it with a tin-can knife and dried it. He swam daily to keep his muscles fit and body clean, while watching for sharks and staying tethered to the boat. He caught rainwater in a piece of canvas. When a storm spoiled his fish and fouled his water, Lim, barely alive, caught a bird and drank its blood to survive. Another time he hooked a 30-pound shark and ate the liver.

On April 5, 1943, when he staggered ashore in Brazil, he’d lost 20 pounds. Poon Lim survived a record 133 days alone on the Atlantic. He said, “I hope no one will ever have to break that record.”

Jesus said, speaking of the last days, “He who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). In our sin-plagued world, we face difficulties like waves of the sea. But if we cling to Jesus, He will keep us afloat through every trial and give us the strength to endure.

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matthew 24:13

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