by Agencies and Staff, The Guardian, March 29, 2016
A 65-year-old British tourist has been rescued by fishermen off the island of Madeira after she tried to swim back to her cruise ship following a row with her husband.
Susan Brown was plucked out of the Atlantic around midnight on Saturday some 500m from the coast, shivering and clinging to her handbag, the head of the Funchal port authority, Felix Marques, said.
Fishermen came to the rescue after they were alerted by her cries for help, he added.
According to the Portuguese daily Correio da Manha, the woman and her husband had earlier disembarked from the Marco Polo cruise ship at Portugal’s Funchal port and decided to fly back to Britain after having an argument.
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, wrongly thinking that her husband might have been on board.
She jumped into the water carrying her handbag at around 8pm and started swimming towards the ship, Marques said. She was rescued some four hours later and taken to a hospital in Funchal with symptoms of hypothermia.
“Susan Brown must have got a little lost and, when she was close to the airport, she saw the cruise at a large distance and threw herself into the sea, trying to reach the ship,” Marques said.
“I think it was impulsive, to try to swim to the boat ... she was upset and desperate.”
The sea temperature in the archipelago off northwest Africa was 18C (64F).
Marlldo Freitas, one of the fishermen who rescued Brown, said she looked like a survivor of the Titanic when they located her in the water using torches.
Local paper Jornal da Madeira quoted him as saying: “She was barely conscious - she’s lucky to be alive. I don’t think she would have lasted another 30 minutes.”
Local SIC television said the woman’s husband Michael had not returned to the ship but had taken the first flight home.
Agence France-Presse and Associated Press contributed to this report
This article was written by Agencies and Staff from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.