A 65-year-old British woman told police in Portugal's Madeira Islands she tried to swim out to her passing cruise ship in the mistaken belief that her husband was on board before being rescued by fishermen after four hours in the sea, an official said Monday.
Susan Brown told maritime police that she and her husband had decided Saturday to fly home early from their cruise aboard the Marco Polo which had stopped over that day in Madeira, Felix Marques, harbor captain at Madeira's Funchal port, said.
However, Marques said Brown told police she later lost sight of her husband at Funchal airport after they argued and was "feeling desperate."
She said she had tried to swim out to the ship from an area by the seaside airport when she saw it sailing out of Funchal in the evening, thinking that her husband might have been on board, according to Marques. Police have since ascertained that her husband boarded a flight to Bristol, England.
Brown only had her handbag with her when a local fishing boat came across her in the Atlantic after midnight, Marques said.
The sea temperature in the archipelago off northwest Africa was 18 degrees Celsius (64 Fahrenheit). She was taken to hospital with advanced hypothermia and was later moved to a psychiatric ward, Marques said.
Police intend to interview her a second time.