A 45-year-old woman survived almost two days adrift in the Aegean Sea thanks to a handful of candy and the strategic use of three plastic bags to keep herself warm and dry, media in her native New Zealand have reported.
The woman, identified as Kushila Stein, was by the Hellenic Coast Guard more than 100 kilometers (55 nautical miles) north of Crete on Sunday, nearly 40 hours after she lost control of her dinghy off the coast of Folegandros island on Friday.
According to reports, Stein, an experienced sailor, had been bringing a yacht from Turkey to Athens for a client when she decided to go ashore on Folegandros to stretch her legs and purchase some supplies. She lost an oar as she rowed back to the yacht and was pushed out to sea by strong winds.
The owner of the yacht reported her missing on Saturday, according to reports, prompting a large-scale search-and-rescue operation involving coast guard vessels and aircraft, a navy helicopter and civilian boats.
Kushila Stein’s mother, Wendy Stein, told New Zealand’s Stuff that the 45-year-old survived by eating a “handful of boiled lollies” and wrapping herself in plastic bags. She also placed one of the bags, a red one, on her head during the day so she could be spotted by a passing boat or plane, while writing her mother’s name and telephone number on the hull of the dinghy so rescuers could contact her if she didn’t make it through her ordeal.
“She told me: ‘I did everything I could to survive.’ She has been trained in sea survival so is quite competent. I think that might have saved her life,” Wendy Stein told Stuff.
Kushila Stein was treated for exhaustion and dehydration at a hospital in Iraklio, Crete, where doctors have given her a clean bill of health.