Hungry Swede crosses Baltic Sea the hard way

  • 2002-09-26
  • J. Michael Lyons

Swedish sailor Roger Edstroem says dog food and a one-kilo bag of sugar helped him survive 19 days adrift on the Baltic Sea.

The Latvian Coast Guard rescued Edstroem, 61, about 24 kilometers from the port city of Ventspils on Sept. 19 after the battery in his six-meter boat failed. Without the battery, Edstroem said, he could not use his radio or start the boat's engine.

Edstroem set off Sept. 1 from a small island near Stockholm intending to test the boat, which he had recently purchased, and to fish. He took enough food, mostly vegetables, for about six days.

On the second night he set the ship's anchor and went to sleep, he told The Baltic Times from the Swedish Embassy on Sept. 20.

When he woke the battery was dead and he was drifting. His anchor never caught again.

For the next 16 days he was pushed across the Baltic Sea by wind and strong currents.

Edstroem said he thought a lot about the future and about his boat, Angelica, which was not paid for.

"I watched the sun go up," he said. "And then I watched it go down."

When the vegetables ran out, Edstroem said he started eating dog food that he had stowed on board, mixing it with rainwater into a "porridge."

He also ate handfuls of sugar.

Edstroem said he saw four or five ships pass him during the ordeal. At one point he said he coiled a long piece of rope on the deck of the boat and planned to lasso a passing ship.

The dog food and sugar ran out nine days before he was spotted by a Latvian fishing boat, which relayed his coordinates to the Latvian Coast Guard.

Edstroem spent a night at a Ventspils hospital before returning to Riga on Sept. 20 and flying back to Stockholm.