A sailor has been rescued along with his cat after their boat broke down in the Indian Ocean seven months ago.
Zbigniew Reket, 54, was pulled from the waters, along with Samira, by the French coastguard after his lengthy time at sea.
He said that his cat was his only company and that he survived on fish that he caught after his Chinese soup rations – enough for just one month – ran out.
He was rescued in his modified lifeboat after being spotted by the crew of a yacht on Christmas Day close to the island of Reunion, close to Mauritius.
Reket said that when he left the Comoros Islands in May he was trying to get to South Africa but his boat broke down.
He bought the boat, which was originally a lifeboat for a cruise ship, in Alang, India, after leaving the US in 2014. However, his green card visa had expired so he couldn’t go back.
He headed for Jakarta, Indonesia, but the mast broke, so he headed for the Comoros Islands, where he found Samira.
There he spent two years, repairing his boat and trying to get back to Poland via the Polish embassy in Kenya.
They gave him €150 and sent him on his way, saying they couldn’t repatriate him.
So he set off with Samira to try and get to Durban, South Africa, which is when his boat broke down.
If his trip had been successful he would have sailed 1,200 miles, through the Mozambique Channel, which is a busy shipping route.
His claims are currently being investigated with officials trying to work out the route he took.
However, his instruments were all broken, he claimed, by large waves that smashed them. Rescuers said that he was in good health and undernourished, but a charity has clothed and fed him.
He said: ‘We drifted towards the Somali coast, then towards the Maldives, and then Indonesia again.
‘Several times I could see land but I could never steer towards it. I spotted several ships but the battery on my radio was dead.’
As an EU citizen Mr Reket could stay on the French Island of Reunion, something he is now considering.
He concluded: ‘I want to have a normal life, find a job, and why not stay here?’
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