The thought of his baby boy and eight-year-old daughter helped Tanawoot Pratoom survive 10 hours alone in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean last weekend.
Suddenly feeling dizzy while alone on deck of a container ship, the painter fell into the sea 525 nautical miles from the nearest land southeast of Bermuda early Saturday morning.
Miraculously, he was found by his own crew about 10 hours later, eight hours after the alarm was sounded.
“I just think of my family and prayed and thank God for giving me strength,” Pratoom told @Maersk from the container vessel Maersk Bintan.
“I remembered my children and wife and even mother and father - they are my inspirations.”
The 31-year-old Thai national is now recovering aboard Bintan as it sails from Panama to Algeciras, Spain, from where he will fly home to his wife, daughter and three-month-old baby boy.
Feeling dizzy and faint after completing chores around 7.15am, Pratoom leant on the ship’s side railing to steady himself, but blanked out and fell overboard.
The training he and his crewmates have received from Maersk Line then kicked in.
Fully clad in his overalls, Pratoom first removed them and his shoes.
He then swam through warm waters throughout the day towards passing ships until finally his own crew, who had doubled back after realizing he was missing two hours after his fall, plucked him from the sea around 5pm.
“When I fall down in the water I was feeling so dizzy, but I became conscious when I felt the water over me,” he told @Maersk.
“I just really thank the crew here on Bintan - they really did their best to save me.”
About six other ships and a search plane responded to Bintan’s request for help.One of those vessels, MV Stalo, sighted Pratoom waving his arms at 3:38pm.
Forty minutes later, the crew of Bintan picked him up at the location reported by MV Stalo.
Proud and grateful Master
Maersk Bintan Master M.E Alahi expressed his admiration for Pratoom’s strength.
“His mental and physical ability was extraordinary and he was very happy when he came onboard,” said the Master in a statement to Maersk Line’s Centre Operations.
Captain Alahi also expressed his gratitude to the shore personnel and other ships involved in the search and rescue.
“I am very grateful to all shore personnel, and three vessels who listened to the distress call of fellow sailors in right time and right place.”
Drift simulation technology used by the US Coast Guard helped the rescue pinpoint Pratoom’s position.
Even with the assistance of the coast guard, the skipper still described his rescue as a miracle.
“Miracles happen and life has taken over the death for that instance when self belief kept him alive and a co-ordination of ship’s crew, shore and nearby vessels lifted our hope to find him,” he said. “He is a lucky person to be alive.”
Caring for his saved crewmate aboard Bintan, Ernesto Ramos said the entire crew was over the moon when they found Pratoom on Saturday.
“When we saw him, at first we were so happy and blessed,” Ramos, Bintan’s chief cook, said.
“We found him because of our good training and the good cooperation of our crew here on Maersk Bintan.
“I was really overwhelmed to see Pratoom alive because we were looking for him for 10 hours. I salute the miracle and the strength of Pratoom.”
Story written by: Benjamin Johnson, Group Relations
Posted on Thursday, June 28th 2012