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Stranded Sailors Spell Rescue with Palm Leaves: A Survival Tale



Quick Smiles:

  • Three sailors stranded on Pikelot Atoll in Micronesia were rescued after spelling out ‘HELP’ with palm leaves.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard and Navy coordinated to locate the men, with their leafy message playing a crucial role in their discovery.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard recommends all mariners equip their vessels with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) to enhance safety on the water.

In a story that could easily be mistaken for a movie plot, three sailors found themselves stranded on an island in Micronesia. Their resourcefulness and quick thinking, however, led to their rescue. They spelled out ‘HELP’ using palm leaves, catching the attention of their rescuers.

The U.S. Coast Guard came to the aid of the sailors, who were stranded on Pikelot Atoll. The men had encountered difficulties while traveling in their small 20-foot open skiff. Despite their familiarity with local waters, they found themselves in a predicament after setting off on a journey from Polowat Atoll on Easter Sunday.

Six days later, the Joint Rescue Sub-Center Guam received a distress call. A relative of the sailors reported that her uncles were missing. They had embarked on a 100-nautical-mile journey and had not returned.

The Coast Guard in Micronesia/Sector Guam and the U.S. Navy collaborated to locate the men. Their innovative ‘HELP’ sign made from palm leaves on the beach played a significant role in their discovery.

“In a remarkable testament to their will to be found, the mariners spelled out ‘HELP’ on the beach using palm leaves, a crucial factor in their discovery. This act of ingenuity was pivotal in guiding rescue efforts directly to their location,” said Lt. Chelsea Garcia, the search and rescue mission coordinator on the day they were found.

The U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft confirmed their presence on Pikelot Atoll on April 7. The crew successfully dropped survival packages to sustain the men until further help could arrive.

The crew aboard the USCG Oliver Henry rescued the relieved trio two days later on April 9. The U.S. Coast Guard added that they strongly recommend all mariners equip their vessels with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) to enhance safety on the water.


So, let’s spread this inspiring story of survival and rescue to sailors and landlubbers alike on social media. It’s a reminder of the power of quick thinking and the importance of preparedness when embarking on any voyage.