Three Men Stranded on Pacific Island Saved by Desperate Palm Leaf SOS Message

( – Three men found themselves stranded on a Pacific island when their skiff sustained damage that left the tiny vessel’s outboard engine unusable. The boaters survived for over a week on the island before members of the US Coast Guard, the Navy, and regional partners worked together to bring them to safety. A desperate SOS message made of palm leaves may have saved their lives.

The boaters might not have embarked specifically on a 3-hour tour (a 3-hour tour) on Easter Sunday, but they may as well have. The men, reportedly experienced in navigating the local waters, left Polowat Atoll on a 20-foot open skiff to visit an area in Pikelot Atoll — which is about 100 nautical miles away. A relative of all three reported them missing on April 6, nearly a week after they had left.

The US Coast Guard states that the men somehow ended up marooned on Pikelot Atoll, Yap State, Federated States of Micronesia, where they were left to their own resources to survive. The men’s saving grace appeared to be their decision to spell out “HELP” on the beach using palm leaves.

US Coast Guard Lt. Chelsea Garcia called it “a remarkable testament” to the survivors’ drive to get rescued and said it was “pivotal” to pinpointing their location. Personnel flying the US Coast Guard HC-130J Hercules aircraft spotted the sign while flying over the area from Hawaii, and they dropped a radio to allow communication with the castaways.

Aircraft crews also flew in supply packages to aid the men’s survival while they waited for USCGC Oliver Henry — which had been rerouted to their location — to retrieve them. The ship recovered the stranded men as well as their equipment. All three were in good health upon their rescue.

A similar event occurred in 2020 when another three-person crew manning a skiff also became stranded on an island of Micronesia. Those mariners received help after digging a massive “SOS” sign into the sand on the beach.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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