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He Had One of the 'Loneliest Jobs,' Then Got Lost at Sea

Indonesian 19-year-old Aldi Novel Adilang survives 49 days adrift
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2018 6:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – He thought about jumping into the ocean to end it all, but recalled his parents' advice: pray. And Aldi Novel Adilang, 19, had a Bible with him, so he did. What the Indonesian teen didn't have was much food, paddles, an engine, or a functional anchor, but he survived spending 49 days adrift in waters off Guam. The Guardian reports he was aboard a rompong, a small wooden hut anchored to the seabed and kept afloat using buoys that's used for catching fish. Lamps suspended from the rompong help draw the fish in, and Aldi's job was to man the lamps each night. The Jakarta Post calls it "one of the loneliest jobs in the world": His rompong was located some 75 miles from land and his only human contact was via walkie talkie and his weekly deliveries of fuel and food.

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It's a job he had done since age 16, but on July 14, high winds broke the rope that tethered him to the seabed. He caught fish and burned the rompong's wooden fence to cook them; he tried to filter out some of the seawater's salt by straining the liquid through his clothes; he spent one day watching a shark circle his hut, per NBC News. He reports 10 ships passed him before he was picked up by the Panamanian-flagged vessel MV Arpeggio off Guam on Aug. 31; the Post describes a weakened Aldi barely able to maintain his hold on the rope that was thrown to him. The ship was bound for Japan, so Aldi accompanied the crew there, arriving Sept. 6 and returning to Indonesia two days later. (This CEO went fishing; only his boat returned.)

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