A woman from the UK fell off a cruise ship near the Croatian coast and survived until she was rescued 10 hours later.
The 46-year-old British citizen, Kay Longstaff, fell off a Norwegian Cruise Line ship around midnight of August 18.
She told a Croatian news channel that she was sitting at the back of the deck before she fell into the water.
Longstaff also told her rescuers she floated and sang to stay awake.
Ten hours after she went overboard, the captain of the Croatian rescue team sent to search for the missing passenger found Longstaff floating some 60 miles off Croatia’s coast. “Luckily for her we saw her immediately because she raised and waved her hands when she saw us,” he said.
Lovro Oreskovic, one of the rescuers involved in the search mission, told news outlets that it was a “miracle” Longstaff survived. He said search crews were actually doubtful they would find her alive given the long interval.
Christine Da Silva, a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line, said “We are very happy that the individual, who is a UK resident, is now safe and will soon be reunited with friends and family.”
Longstaff was able to endure the fall and managed to not get pulled underneath by the the huge vessel’s wake. The sea was also warm enough for her to survive. With a temperature of around 83 degrees Fahrenheit, she was not in danger of cold water shock and it helped her to stay conscious.
While luck played a role in Longstaff’s survival, her mindset was critical to her well-being. By staying calm and floating, Longstaff was able to conserve her body heat and energy long enough for rescue crews to find her.
Longstaff’s mental resilience and will to survive also increased her chances at survival, enabling her to stay conscious and call for help when the opportunity presented itself.
For more information about surviving a situation where you’re in open water, check out the Man Overboard article.