HILO, Hawaii -- A woman who spent 41 days alone in a boat damaged by a Pacific hurricane said she 'cried a lot' during the ordeal and considered suicide but 'didn't know how.'
The woman, Tami Lee Oldham, 23, of Point Loma, Calif., was left on her own when Hurricane Raymond battered the 43-foot sailing vessel Hazana and swept her fiance overboard.
'I prayed to God a lot even though I wasn't a religious person,' Ms. Oldham said Monday. 'I thought I was going to die and a couple of times I thought I was going to kill myself, but I didn't know how to kill myself.'
Ms. Oldham was rescued in seas just off the island of Hawaii Sunday.
She said she was with her fiance, Richard Sharp, 34, of Cornwell, England, in Papeete, Tahiti, when Peter and Christine Crompton of Southhampton, England, asked them to sail the Hazana to San Diego, Calif.
The Cromptons were tired of cruising, she said, and wanted to get the boat to California to sell it.
Ms. Oldham and Sharp left Tahiti aboard the vessel Sept. 22. Nineteen days later they encountered the 120-mph winds of Raymond about 1,600 miles southeast of Hawaii.
She strapped herself under a table while Sharp stayed on deck hooked to the boat with a safety line. She said the boat rolled completely at least once as the hurricane swept by and she was knocked unconscious.
When she awoke about three hours later she said she was feverish and had bruises and blood on her body. The boat was badly damaged and both masts were broken.
Sharp's safety line was still hooked to the boat but his harness had snapped, she said. Sharp is officially listed as missing at sea by the Coast Guard.
'I had a lot of days of crying fits but after a while I started to accept my fate and quit crying,' she said. 'I prayed to God a lot.'
Ms. Oldham said rigged up a makeshift sail, used a sextant to navigate by the stars and gauged the distance she traveled each day with a digital watch.
She arrived off the coast of Hawaii at about 1 a.m. HST Sunday but decided to wait until daylight before attempting to enter Hilo Harbor.
At dawn she spotted the Japanese vessel Hokusei Maru, which was in the area conducting squid research, and fired flares.
The Japanese ship towed her boat to the harbor breakwater where Coast Guard officials brought Ms. Oldham to shore.
'The lady has some guts,' a Coast Guard rescuer said.