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Stranded Sailors Rescued From Remote Island After Cleverly Spelling Out Message Using Palm Fronds

Ariel view of a message on an island spelled out in palm leaves that reads "HELP."

During Easter weekend, three men decided to venture out on the water for a fishing trip. But what was meant to be a fun outing quickly turned into a life-threatening ordeal. The outboard motor on their 20-foot open skiff sailboat was damaged, leaving them stranded on Pikelot Atoll. In order to get rescued, these sailors had to think outside of the box.

Using the island’s bounty of palm leaves, the men were able to spell out the word “help” in massive letters. That way, should someone in an aircraft fly over them, they’d be more likely to be seen. Thankfully, loved ones at home were already taking the steps needed to make this rescue mission possible.

A group of rescuers stand on a U.S. Coast Guard small rescue ship.

When the sailors didn’t return as planned, a relative called the Joint Rescue Sub-Center (JRSC) Guam. With the help of the U.S. Coast Guard, a rescue mission was set in motion. In fact, the very next day, a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft was able to spot their location!

Sailors Rescued Thanks to Message Made of Palm Leaves

The aircraft crew were able to drop a radio on the island to communicate with the sailors, but they weren’t in the position to rescue them quite yet. Instead, rescuers were able to learn that the sailors, thankfully, had access to food and water. Still, while the men waited for their rescue ship, aircraft crew deployed survival packages to ensure they stayed safe.

Ariel view of a message on an island spelled out in palm leaves that reads "HELP."

Needless to say, everyone involved in this harrowing ordeal is oh-so thankful that these sailors thought of such a clever way to be located.

“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,” Lt. Chelsea Garcia says in a release statement. “This act of ingenuity was pivotal in guiding rescue efforts directly to their location.”

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here!

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