Capsizing has rarely been more of a hot topic in the news after the story of Louis Jordan's 66-day ordeal came to light... All of which got us thinking – how many more weird and wonderful capsize (or near-capsize) stories could we find? Answer: plenty!


Louis Jordan: Amazing capsize stories

A photograph of Louis Jordan taken from his Facebook profile.

1. Man rescued from capsized hull after 66 days at sea

American sailor, Louis Jordan, was rescued from the upturned hull of his yacht in early March some 200 miles off the coast of North Carolina. His 35-footer reportedly capsized three times during the ordeal, meaning Jordan was able to spend most of the two months stuck at sea in the shelter of his yacht's cabin attempting to return to land under jury rig.

Many news outlets have published articles questioning the veracity of his accounts – particularly the claim that he broke his collar bone in the initial capsize. When rescued, he showed no sign of that injury, claiming, simply that it had healed in the two months since it had happened. Read full Washington Post article skeptical of Louis Jordan story.


2. Hippopotamus filmed charging small boat...

In January, media reports surfaced about an angry hippopotamus chasing a boat down the Chobe River in Botswana after the boat encroached a bit too closely on what the hippo felt was its territory. Given its size, there is no question that hippo had a good chance of capsizing that boat.




3. A 230-pound tuna gets in a tangle.

The year was 2013, the scene just off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. A 54-year-old man had battled the Ahi for about an hour from his 14-foot boat. He had the fish aboard, but then he gaffed it in the eye. The fish dove back into the water with the line wrapped around the man’s ankle. He went overboard, and the boat capsized. By the time the US Coast Guard arrived, the man was gasping for air and vomiting, clinging to the capsized vessel. He survived with one heck of a fish story.


4. Naked women topple tour boat

As the saying goes, they do everything bigger in Texas. That’s apparently the case at Hippie Hole, the state’s only nude beach, because the view in 2004 caused about 60 people (mostly men, we assume) to rush to one side of a party boat for a better view. The captain ran upstairs to tell them to distribute their weight more evenly, but he was too late, and the boat capsized in about 40 feet of water. Two people suffered minor injuries. Presumably, the sunbathers had the jiggly belly laugh of their life.


5. Attack of the giant jellyfish

The Diasan Shinsho-maru was a serious fishing trawler, a 10-ton bluewater boat dragging nets just as she was built to do. On this day in 2009, though, the three-man crew came up against something they didn’t expect: dozens of Nomura’s jellyfish weighing as much as 440 pounds each and measuring as much as 6 feet wide. The jellyfish got caught in the nets and capsized the vessel, hurling the three fishermen into the sea. All were rescued by another trawler.


6. The Legend of William Bligh

This wasn’t an actual capsize, but a near one in 2010, when four sailors on a 25-foot launch were trying to trace the path of Captain William Bligh. A wave smashed the ship and water poured over the starboard side as she began to sink. At least one of the sailors clung to the side of the ship as fate, and fate alone, began to right her. Gear was lost and an expensive Iridium satphone went into the deep, but the sailors think that just maybe the ghost of their predecessor saved them. “Someone is looking over us,” one sailor wrote on his blog. “Just maybe it is Bligh. He would want us to get to the end, I am sure.”


7. Navy flip ship

It’s not often that sailors try to capsize their vessel intentionally, but that’s what the U.S. Navy is doing with FLIP, which stands for Floating Instrument Platform.

US Navy "Flip Ship"

The US Navy’s “FLIP” ship in action. Who says capsizing has to be an accident? Photo courtesy of the US Navy.

Developed for scientific experiments by the Marine Physical Laboratory at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, the 355-foot-long FLIP is built to go vertical by filling its stern section with water and hoisting its bow area into the air. Crewmen stand on the outside decks, which become bulwarks (and vice versa) as the FLIP does its thing. Furniture is built twice in one place, so one section or the other is always in a usable position.

For more outlandish tales of the sea, try: Sailing survivors: five extraordinary ocean voyages, Cannibalism at sea: breaking the taboo or Mad Mariners: Four Unbelievable Seafaring Exploits.

Written by: Kim Kavin
Kim Kavin is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer who specializes in marine travel. She is the author of 10 books including Dream Cruises: The Insider’s Guide to Private Yacht Vacations, and is editor of the online yacht vacation magazine