A New Zealand woman was found alive off the coast of Greece on Sunday after spending two days adrift in the Aegean Sea, during which time she reportedly survived by wrapping herself in plastic bags and eating boiled candy.
Stein had been helping a British man named Mike deliver a Rival 43 Yacht from southern Turkey to Athens when the boat moored near Folegandros on Friday, according to the New Zealand Herald. She reportedly decided to take the dinghy to the island and explore.
Stein rationed a handful of candy she had in her pack and wrapped herself in plastic bags to survive, her mother said.
(Hellenic Coast Guard)
With her phone battery running low, she texted Mike she was heading back to the yacht. But as she rowed the dinghy back, an oar fell overboard and strong winds blew her off course, her mother, Wendy, told the Herald.
With no idea when help would arrive, Stein’s survival instincts kicked in.
“She told me: ‘I did everything I could to survive,'” Wendy told Stuff.co.nz. “She has been trained in sea survival so is quite competent. I think that might have saved her life.”
Stein wrapped plastic bags around her hands and other parts of her body to stay warm at night, and put a red bag on her head during the day to try attracting attention, the Herald reported. She tied another bag to an oar to wave at passing planes. She also used a mirror to reflect sunlight at any planes that flew overhead.
Stein was found floating in open waters between the islands of Folegandros and Crete, officials said.
(Hellenic Coast Guard)
While Stein didn’t have fresh water, she rationed the “boiled lollies” she had brought in her backpack, her mother said.
And in case she wasn’t found alive, Stein wrote her mother’s name and phone number on the side of the dinghy so she could be contacted, Wendy said.
She told me: ‘I did everything I could to survive.’
— Wendy Stein, mother of Kushila Stein
On the yacht, Mike was unaware Stein had gone missing until Saturday morning and alerted authorities, according to the outlet.
The Hellenic Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter, several boats and an underwater drone to aid in the search. When they finally spotted the 47-year-old, they brought her safely to the Port of Heraklion on the island of Crete. She reportedly arrived at a hospital in good health.
Wendy, relieved that her daughter was found alive, spoke to her on the phone. She told the Herald that Stein’s first words were: “I still have one lolly left, mum.”