Remarkably well, but castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga develops phobia of the sea

Jose Salvador Alvarenga, the fisherman who says he survived more than a year adrift in the Pacific, has been released from hospital and said he would never set sail again.

Mr Alvarenga, 37, emerged from San Rafael National Hospital in his home country of El Salvador where, walking under his own steam, he hugged his mother and father and waved at onlookers outside the emergency room exit.

He has no skin lesions from over-exposure to the sun, and no cardiovascular or kidney issues ... His only physical problem was anaemia.

But he said he had developed a phobia of the sea.

Mr Alvarenga washed up in a 24ft glass fibre boat on a remote atoll in the Marshall Islands on January 30 with a tale that seemed, to some, too strange to be true.

He told the islanders that he had been carried out to sea off Mexico, 10,500km away, in late 2012 and had lived on fish, birds, and turtle blood.

The fisherman was repatriated to El Salvador last week. After leaving hospital in San Salvador, the capital, he announced he would travel briefly to his home village of Garita Palmera to see his 14-year-old daughter Fatima, but would not stay long because it is on the coast.

Doctors said he had developed a fear of open water. Asked if he would go back to fishing, Alvarenga replied: "No. For the moment no."

The castaway said he had talked to God constantly during his odyssey.

He added: "I always had faith in God that I was going to live, asking Him every day, every night.


"I never lost faith that one day I was going to get out. I am going to try to overcome everything that has happened to me but I am OK. I am happy and I give thanks to God."

He also emphatically denied rumours that he had eaten the other fisherman who set out in the boat with him.

He said Ezequiel Cordoba, 24, "died of starvation and the sun. He didn't eat".

When London's The Telegraph visited members of Mr Cordoba's family in a remote Mexican fishing village they said they wanted Mr Alvarenga to visit them and provide "answers" about his death.

Speaking in El Salvador, Mr Alvarenga said the parents should not worry for their son because he died praying to God. He added: "The whole time he was asking for forgiveness."

Asked what he would say to those who doubted his explanation of how he survived, he said: "Only God knows, not even I do. If they don't believe, they don't have to believe. It's all the same to me."

After a battery of tests, doctors have declared him in remarkable physical health. He has a spinal injury but will not need surgery to treat it, only physiotherapy.

He has no skin lesions from over-exposure to the sun, and no cardiovascular or kidney issues. He has said that he sheltered from the sun in a barrel normally used to store the catch.

His only physical problem was anaemia. He has also been prescribed anti-depressants and medication for anxiety. Maria Isabel Rodriguez, El Salvador's health minister, said that Mr Alvarenga had told her several ships ignored his cries for help, with one crew waving at him and another vessel nearly crashing into his boat.

When London's The Telegraph took a photograph of Mr Alvarenga's boat to the southern Mexican village from which he sailed, the owner of the vessel said the licence number on the side matched one in which the fisherman had disappeared on November 17, 2012.

More than half a dozen fishermen also said that Mr Alvarenga had been lost in a terrible storm, and that they had searched for him for days.

A University of Hawaii study of the prevailing wind and conditions in the Pacific also supported his tale.

The Telegraph, London