A New Zealand woman survived two days adrift in a tiny rubber dinghy by rationing a supply of boiled sweets and putting a red bag on her head to attract attention.
Kushila Stein was rescued at sea north of Crete after a massive search involving Greek Coast Guard vessels, civilian boats and aircraft.
During her ordeal, in which she had no fresh water, the experienced sailor put plastic bags on her feet to keep warm at night, used a mirror to try to attract attention and ate boiled sweets that she happened to have with her.
She put a red bag on her head during the day in the hope that she might be spotted by a passing ship or plane.
She wrote her mother’s name and contact details on the hull of the dinghy, in the event that she did not survive.
Ms Stein, 47, was helping a British man, identified only as Mike, to take a yacht from southern Turkey to Athens.
They reached the Aegean island of Folegandros, where on Friday Ms Stein decided to row ashore in a dinghy in order to spend some time on dry land.
But on her way back to the Rival 34 yacht, she lost an oar and winds quickly pushed her out of the harbour of Agkali.
Her British sailing partner raised the alarm on Saturday morning after she had failed to return to the yacht.
The Greek Coast Guard launched what it called “an extensive search and rescue operation” involving seven patrol vessels and three private boats as well as a Coast Guard aircraft and a Navy helicopter.
After nearly 40 hours from her disappearance, she was found drifting at sea southwest of Folegandros, about 55 nautical miles off the north coast of Crete.
She was taken to the port of Heraklion in Crete, where she was treated for exposure and dehydration.
Photographs released by the Greek authorities showed she was able to walk onto the Coast Guard vessel.
Ms Stein is a keen sailor who had been trained in survival at sea, her mother Wendy told Stuff.co.nz.
“She told me: ‘I did everything I could to survive.’ She has been trained in sea survival so is quite competent. I think that might have saved her life."
She had rationed the sweets so carefully that she still had one left when she was rescued.
After making a full recovery, Ms Stein took a ferry to Santorini to meet a friend who had traveled to the region to help with the search.