46 Days Adrift – A True Story

BEN Tooki was only 22 years old when he found himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean in a small open tinnie with his diabetic uncle and a mate. They had lost their way on what was supposed to be a short trip to another island. Ben, an Australian butcher from Tennant Creek in NSW, was keen to see his friends for New Year’s Eve.

It wasn’t to be. Stuck in a small boat with two small bottles of water for 46 days, the trio braved the elements. Battling starvation, they used their bare hands to catch fish, birds, turtles and even a baby shark, and ate them raw. Skin from their feet was used as bait for small flying fish. When things were bad, they ate the build up of algae on the side of the boat.

Ben’s mother, Taoati, prayed fervently for her son’s return. Many prayed with her. The trio prayed thrice daily until they were seen and rescued by a boat that mistook them for a large log.

Many questions are raised in this incredible story of survival. Superstition abounds. One woman in Kirribati (the island Ben had been staying on) says simply: “The spirits are angry because one of your friends mentioned going (to the other island) by plane. He insults the spirits and now look what’s happening.” Was it the power of prayer or mere chance that led to their rescue? Perhaps it was the prayers of the local coconut leaf reader?

This amazing story has been told in the book 46 Days Adrift… a True Story, available now in bookstores for $24.99 or direct from JoJo Publishing on 03 9681 7275.

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