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Poon Lim: How A Castaway Became A BAMF

The Man
Poon Lim is a BAMF, and would you care to know why? He holds the longest record for surviving as a castaway on a life raft. He survived alone for an astonishing 133 days, over 4 months, adrift in a life raft in the South Atlantic Ocean.

The Story
Lim was born and raised in China, and served in World War II as a second steward aboard a British merchant ship, the SS Ben Lomond. This ship was rather slow, lightly armed, and was sailing alone rather than being a part of a convoy. A German U-boat found Lim’s ship and fired a torpedo that sunk the merchant vessel.
 
Prior to the ship going under, Lim was able to grab a life jacket and then promptly jumped over board. Of the total 55-crew members on board, around 11 of them were eventually rescued. That fortune of course was not bestowed upon Lim. He swam in the water for two hours before he finally found an 8×8 foot wooden raft. This was to be what could be considered his only real luck for the next 133 days.
 
The raft was supplied with a few tins of dried biscuits, 40 liters of water, a bag of sugar cubes, some chocolate, two smoke pots, an electric torch, and a few flares. As you can assume, this was not nearly enough for the man to live off of for months on end. So once his supplies began to run low, he resorted to fishing, and catching rainwater in a canvas life jacket covering.
 
If being adrift in the middle of the ocean was not bad enough, Lim was unable to swim. So as a precaution, he tied a line of rope to his wrist in case he fell over. He used some of the wire from his electric torch and made fishing hooks for smaller fish. For larger ones, he dug out a nail from the raft and bent that into a hook.
 
If he was fortunate enough to catch a fish, he would cut it open with a knife he had fashioned out of one of the biscuit tins.  The fish would then be laid out and hung on hemp wires he strung up on the raft to dry out. At one point, a powerful storm hit and ruined both his dried foods and all of his water. On the brink of death, he was finally able to catch a bird and drank the blood to finally quench his thirst.
 
Most people would be afraid to see sharks swimming around them if they were adrift in the ocean. But not Lim, rather try to scare the sharks off, he attempted to catch and kill them. At one point, he used the remains of a bird he had caught as bait to lure the sharks in. When a small shark finally took the bait, he dragged him in and onto his raft. He covered his hands in canvas to both protect and help him keep hold of the creature. He then proceeded to beat the shark with a water jug half filled with seawater. But the battle was not quick, and the shark injured Lim multiple times. In the end, Lim was able to overcome the shark and immediately cut it open and drank the blood from its liver. He also sliced the fins off and let them dry in the sun, which must have been a treat for Lim, as shark fins are a Hainan Chinese delicacy.
 
Disappointments
Lim spotted multiple vessels and even patrol planes over the course of his trying voyage. At the time he believed the vessels wouldn’t pick him up because he was Chinese. There was even a time when a patrol plane spotted him, and dropped a marker buoy to rescue him. However, a storm rolled in and swept him away from it. He was also spotted by a German U-boat, which was doing gunnery drills by shooting at sea gulls. But they left Lim alone to his fate and provided no help whatsoever.
 
Respect Where Respect Is Due
Lim mentioned that he tried to keep track of the days but eventually became tired of it. So he resorted to counting the full moons that passed. 133 days, alone, and adrift in the South Atlantic Ocean. Fighting sea creatures with his bare hands and catching birds, which is almost impossible with the right tools on land. He is a BAMF among men, and should not be forgotten. Poon Lim died in Brooklyn in 1991 at the age of 73. When Lim was told he had survived longer than any other person on a raft at sea, he simply replied, “I hope no one will ever have to break that record.”
 
This article was written by Damien S. Wilhelmi, an SEO Jedi, SEM Super Sayan, and content creating Autobot. If you enjoyed this article, you can follow me on twitter @JakabokBotch. I am writing on behalf of Wilderness Aware Rafting, who offers great mult-day rafting trips throughout Colorado and Arizona.


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