A New Zealand woman lost at sea off the southeastern coast of Greece survived in her inflatable dingy for almost two days eating candies, local media reported.
Kushila Stein, 47, was adrift in the Aegean Sea, southwest of the island Folegandros, when the Hellenic Coast Guard rescued her Sunday, authorities said.
“She has been trained in sea survival so is quite competent. I think that might have saved her life,” Stein’s mother Wendy told New Zealand news outlet Stuff.
“I still have one lolly left mum,” Stein told her mother after her rescue, according to the New Zealand Herald.
The saga at sea started Friday for Stein. The woman from Warkworth, New Zealand, was just off Folegandros in the middle of a weeks-long voyage from southern Turkey to Athens when she decided to row to the island for a walk, the Herald reported.
Stein was helping a British man, Mike, deliver a yacht, and texted him late in the afternoon when she was heading back to the ship, the newspaper reported.
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However, winds knocked an oar from her dingy, and soon she began floating off course. When Stein didn’t appear the next morning, Mike went looking but soon called rescuers.
“He thought ‘Oh no, that does not look good,'” Stein’s mother told Stuff.
Stein was an experienced sailor, her mother told the news outlets. She knew to dry out her socks, wrap herself in plastic bags she had brought aboard and ration her hard candies. Stein, however, had no fresh water, and was desperate to be saved.
She flashed a mirror as planes flew overhead and tied the brightly colored bags to her head and oar so she could move about and wave the oar to try to capture their attention, the news outlets reported. Stein also wrote her mother’s name and phone number on the dingy, preparing for the worst.
The Hellenic Coast Guard launched an extensive search for the missing woman. After at least 37 hours, she was found “half way between Crete and Folegandos,” Stein’s mother told Stuff.
The coast guard said the woman was transported safely to the port of Heraklion on Crete. Her mother first heard the good news from rescue authorities, then her daughter called her soon after, the Herald reported.
“She told me: ‘I did everything I could to survive,'” Stein’s mother told Stuff.
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