A man from Dominica says he ate ketchup, garlic powder, and seasoning cubes for 24 days, while he was lost at sea.
Yesterday, the Colombian navy rescued Elvis Francois who has been adrift on a sailboat.
According to reports, Francois, 47, from Anse de Mai, a fishing village in the northeast of Dominica, had scrawled the word “help” in English on the boat’s hull that was spotted from the air 120 nautical miles northwest of La Guajira peninsula.
The Colombian navy said in a statement that Francois was taken to the port city of Cartagena by a passing container ship.
In December, Francois’s sailboat was swept by high currents, while he was making repairs to it off the island of St Martin where he lives.
The statement said that Francois had no knowledge of navigation “he was lost and disoriented at sea, his efforts to maneuver the ship and the equipment on board were useless”.
Francois said he tried to call his friends but he lost signal while on the water and he got to the point where all he could do was sit and wait for something to happen
“I called my friends, they tried to contact me, but I lost the signal. There was nothing else to do but sit and wait,” Francois recalled in a video released by the navy, adding that he subsisted on a bottle of ketchup, garlic powder and Maggi cubes. I could do nothing but sit and wait. Twenty-four days away from the earth, with no one to talk to, without knowing what to do, or where I was. It was hard, at times I lost hope, I thought of my family”, Francois said.
Francois had many close calls and missed several opportunities to be rescued. An instance was on January 15 when he saw an aircraft and tried to use a mirror and the sun’s reflection to send a signal.
“When I saw it pass twice, I understood they had seen me. At some point I lost hope and thought about my family, but I thank the coast guard. If it weren’t for them I, wouldn’t be telling the story,”,” he said.
Eventually, a Colombian naval vessel came to assist him with the support of a merchant
They said they thought the sailboat was abandoned at sea when Francois was picked up by the merchant ship.
After checking Francois’s health he was handed over to immigration authorities for his return home to Dominica.