March 7, 2006
Australian Woman Survives Days at Sea on Urine
BANGKOK -- An Australian yachtswoman said on Tuesday she drank her own urine to survive five days at sea without food or water after being swept out to sea in a dinghy from a Thai island.
Dominique Courteille, 57, a mother of four from Perth, said after being rescued by a Taiwan fishing boat in Indonesian waters she held onto the little boat to shade herself from the fierce sun.
"If I want to survive, I have to manage myself," the Belgian-born Courteille said she kept telling herself.
"I swim and hold the boat in the day to avoid from the sun and I have to drink my urine," she said in a statement dictated to a hospital worker on the Thai resort island of Phuket to which the fishing boat took her.
A hospital spokeswoman said Courteille, who had been living on her yacht at a Phuket marina for the past 18 months, appeared to be in good shape.
"Her blood tests show an electrolyte imbalance with some sunburns, but her physical appearance shows she is strong," the spokeswoman told Reuters. "She refuses to stay at the hospital because she said she misses her friends."
Friends reported Courteille missing on March 2, prompting an unsuccessful Thai and Malaysian search using a helicopter, fixed-wing aircraft and three Thai navy vessels.
She was feared to have drowned after vanishing as she rowed the dinghy back to her yacht after a night ashore on Lipe Island near Phuket, the Australian government said.
"It was so windy and I miss the boat because the current was also very strong, stronger than usual and stronger than the motor of the dinghy," she said.
Courteille said she waved an oar to try to attract the attention of passing ships as she was carried farther and farther out to sea until the fishing boat spotted her on Monday.
She then used a mobile phone to call the friends who reported her missing.
(Additional reporting by James Grubel in Canberra)