Maurice and Maralyn Bailey

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Maurice and Maralyn Bailey were a British couple who, in 1973, survived for 117 days on a rubber raft in the Pacific Ocean before being rescued.

Biography[edit]

The Baileys' journey began when they left Southampton, England in their 31-foot (9.4 m) yacht, the Auralyn. Their intended destination was New Zealand. They passed safely through the Panama Canal in February and were on their way to the Galapagos Islands. At the crack of dawn of March 4, 1973, their yacht was struck by a whale and severely damaged. After transferring some supplies to an inflated raft and dinghy and salvaging some food, a compass, and other supplies, the Baileys watched as the Auralyn disappeared beneath the waves. To survive, they collected rainwater and when their meager food supplies ran out, began eating sea creatures such as turtles, seabirds and fish caught by hand or with safety pins fashioned into hooks. As they drifted in the open Pacific, the couple saw seven different ships, but were unable to attract these ships' attention since their signal flares failed and their emergency kit did not contain a signalling mirror. Their liferaft began to disintegrate and required frequent reinflation. They read and played card games early in their ordeal, but later the Baileys suffered terribly from malnutrition and friction-induced sores, the latter worsening due to the wet conditions in the raft. They encountered sharks and dolphins and endured several severe storms.

After traveling some 1,500 miles (2,400 km), the Baileys were rescued by the crew of a Korean fishing boat, the Weolmi 306, on June 30, 1973. Sailors on the ship spotted the raft after initially passing it by. The couple was brought aboard in an emaciated state, having lost some 40 pounds (18 kg) apiece and with their legs barely able to support their weight. The Weolmi brought them to Honolulu, Hawaii and to a fine welcome. The Baileys returned to England and wrote an account of their ordeal entitled 117 Days Adrift (Staying Alive! in the U.S.), which was published in 1974 by Adlard Coles Nautical. The following year, they returned to the sea in their new yacht, the Auralyn II.

Maralyn Bailey was born Maralyn Harrison on April 24, 1941 in Nottingham, England. Maralyn and Maurice married in 1963. Maralyn died in 2002 at the age of 61.

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