Kushila Stein, 47, was vacationing on a sailboat near the Greek island of Folegandros when she boarded an inflatable boat on Nov. 1 to get supplies. She was missing a day later, according to Greek authorities.
Stein was found roughly 40 nautical miles southwest of Folegandros near the island of Crete on Sunday morning after an intensive search operation involving seven coast guard vessels, three private boats, a plane, and a helicopter, Reuters reported.
“I was blown away, blown away in my dinghy,” she said as she disembarked a coast guard vessel at the port of Iraklion, on Crete.
Capt Giorgos Marietakis, who helmed a boat which assisted in the relief efforts, told the Guardian she was alone at sea longer than anyone he had ever known.
“I had an image of her being hungry and thirsty,” he told the outlet. “I tried to get into her head and think of what she would do. I imagined her beginning to despair and I thought of her doing whatever she could to survive.”
Stein reportedly survived thanks to candy, which she ate for a meal, a coast guard official told Reuters. Local media reported she's an experienced sailor from New Zealand.
“She was clearly exhausted but very level-headed, very composed,” he told the Guardian. “She had gone without fresh water and I think had begun to despair. She had survived on boiled sweets, which she had kept in a tiny pouch. By the time we found her, she said she had one left.”
Stein helped improve her chances of survival by wrapping herself in plastic bags, rationing her candy and drying out her socks. She even managed to survive after losing an oar.
"She had drifted a long way, over 40 nautical miles south of Folegandros," Marietakis said. "She was so happy. She hugged and kissed us but, if truth be told, I don't know who was more overjoyed, us or her. We had saved a human being and she had survived to tell the tale."