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Louis Jordan Recounts 66-Day Ordeal Lost at Sea on Fishing Trip

A sailor found whose family says he was missing at sea for 66 days recounted how his quest to catch "some big ones" almost cost him his life.
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/ Source: NBC News

A sailor whose family says he was missing at sea for 66 days recounted how his quest to catch "some big ones" almost cost him his life.

Louis Jordan, 36, was reported missing by his father on Jan. 29. He had embarked on a fishing trip about a week earlier on the 1950s-era, single-masted sailboat Angel from Conway, South Carolina. Jordan was found floating Thursday on the overturned hull of the vessel about 200 miles off North Carolina's coast, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

In an interview with TODAY that aired Friday, the self-described "inexperienced sailor" said he was headed to the Gulf Stream — "where a lot of fish are" — when disaster struck.

"I was planning on catching some big ones," he recalled. "On the way there, my boat capsized. I was actually sleeping, that’s when it happened. The whole boat had turned around and I was flying through the air somersaulting and the ceiling was the floor and the floor was the ceiling and this side was the other side and everything was upside down and backwards."

He added: "I was just rolling around with all the things, all the objects, all my possessions and electronics and GPS and even my stove had come off of the wall and was flying in the air with me. We’re all just turning around together and I land against the wall and I break my shoulder."

The storm broke Angel's mast and damaged his communication gear. Jordan told TODAY he prayed to God to protect him after encountering the bad weather and "huge waves."

He added that "it seemed like a lot longer" than the 66 days he was missing.

Jordan told Coast Guard officials he survived through a combination of rationing the food he had already packed for the journey, drinking rain water and catching fish with a net.

He set sail on Jan. 23 from Bucksport Plantation Marina in Conway, South Carolina. Jordan was located some 200 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, by a German cargo ship.

Marilyn Fajardo, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard's 7th District, said officials in Miami were notified by Jordan's father on Jan. 29 that he hadn't seen or heard from his son in a week.

Fajardo said alerts were later issued from New Jersey to Miami to be on the lookout for Jordan and his sailboat.

A search was launched on Feb. 8, but Fajardo said the Coast Guard abandoned its efforts after 10 days.

The Coast Guard said Jordan didn't file a "float plan," the nautical equivalent of a flight plan, to determine his route or destination, and Fajardo said there wasn't enough information to narrow down his whereabouts.

Officials also searched financial data to determine whether Jordan actually had come ashore without being noticed, but found no indication that he had, Fajardo added.

NBC News' Daniella Silva, Nikolai Miller and Jason Cumming and The Associated Press contributed to this report.