Seven fishermen who were lost at sea for more than a week were reunited with families in Whitehouse, Westmoreland, yesterday after being saved by a seaman who refused to give up on his rescue mission.
What was expected to be an uneventful three-day trip to the Pedro Cays turned out be a nightmare for seasoned fishermen Wilton Swaby, Patrick Gooden, Ricardo Samuels, Ian Wright, Clive Tomlinson, Eyverth Blair and Alvin Blair.
“Only God know … . A just joy inna mi heart. One a de engine dem fail mi Saturday about 3 p.m., and the other one fail mi pon Sunday about 1:30 p.m., and then that was it. We just start drift,” recalled Swaby, captain of the ill-fated boat, as family members hugged him and expressed relief that he had survived the ordeal.
“At that time, wi haffi jus stop think ‘bout land and a focus pon the seas, and just keep pray seh dem find wi. A jus God, mi boss … . A just bawl mi a bawl fi see mi family dem this morning,” added Swaby, as he stood on the beach at Whitehouse with his back to the sea.
‘I DID NOT GIVE UP HOPE’
With food rations depleted, the seven fishermen saw something they were yearning for since they had been adrift – a boat heading in their direction.
Oniel Jones, captain of the rescue vessel, recounted sailing “about 150 miles out to sea” on his vessel, Lady Felicia.
“I did not give up hope. I just kept on searching,” Jones told The Gleaner.
“I just decided to take a different course, because by then, it was time to head back to shore. I then started to search the waters desperately because my only intention was to find my friends,” said Jones.
In relating his ordeal, Gooden said that they had enough food to last them till Sunday, when they planned to return home.
“In the first two days, we did have hope, but when we see Tuesday and Wednesday come and nobody nuh rescue we, everything start to flash inna mi head,” said Gooden. “… And after seven days and the food a done, we start fret.”
He said that when he saw Jones’ boat coming, “it was like a God come”.
Amid the celebrations, Delroy Burnett, a veteran fisherman from the community, told The Gleaner that the latest scare was a warning to all seamen to ensure that they are properly equipped.
“I am so overjoyed to know that they are back home because things could have been worse,” said Burnett.