June 28, 2023
Aaron Carotta, an adventurer on a mission to circumnavigate the globe, faced a perilous situation when his rowboat lost battery power in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He spent over a month at the mercy of ocean currents before a giant wave capsized his vessel. In a desperate situation, he inflated a leaky life raft and activated an emergency satellite beacon. Thankfully, a United States Coast Guard plane spotted him and initiated a rescue operation, ultimately saving his life.
The use of satellite technologies, particularly SpaceX’s Starlink internet systems, has greatly increased the chances of locating and rescuing individuals lost at sea. For example, in March, a Starlink connection helped rescue the crew of a capsized sailboat. However, older satellite rescue technologies, like the Cospas-Sarsat network, also continue to be effective. In 2021 alone, nearly 2,500 people were rescued through this international satellite network. The system’s automatic and instantaneous notifications make it a valuable tool for search and rescue authorities.
Aaron Carotta’s journey as an adventurer began after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Seeking a more purposeful path, he quit his job and embarked on a six-year journey, traveling to numerous countries, doing charity work, and working as a freelance television producer and presenter. After facing personal and professional setbacks, Carotta decided to take on ambitious water-based expeditions. These included a 5,000-mile solo canoe trip and his planned globe circumnavigation as a spiritual journey to recalibrate his life.
When his rowboat’s solar panels malfunctioned, Carotta found himself relying on limited devices, including an iPhone, GPS tracker, and emergency satellite beacon. He chose not to activate the beacon initially to avoid straining the Coast Guard’s resources. Instead, he navigated solely with a compass as he drifted towards French Polynesia. Despite the challenges, Carotta remained steadfast, rowing and maintaining a daily routine of “eat, pray, fish.”
Concern grew among Carotta’s followers on social media as his silence persisted, especially since he had expressed worries about rogue waves capsizing his boat. Eventually, a friend from New Zealand contacted search and rescue authorities, leading to an international search effort. When Carotta finally activated his emergency satellite beacon on June 15, a Coast Guard aircraft located him and dropped survival equipment. However, rough seas and the presence of a circling shark prevented Carotta from reaching the equipment. He spent the night battling hypothermia on the life raft.
The following day, a merchant ship alerted by the Coast Guard arrived, and Carotta was rescued from the life raft. He expressed gratitude for his survival and reflected on the profound experience. Despite not being able to quote scripture verses or offer a homily, Carotta hopes his story inspires others to embark on their own journeys and lead purposeful lives.