A man from the island of Dominica went missing aboard a sailboat in the Caribbean for almost a month, surviving on ketchup before being rescued in Colombian waters, the country’s naval authority said on Wednesday (18).
“I had nothing to eat, just a bottle of ketchup, garlic powder and Maggi [cubos de caldo de carne]. I mixed everything with water to survive about 24 days,” said Elvis Francois, 47, as he was rescued by the Colombian Navy.
The islander had the word “Help” engraved on his helmet when he was found 120 nautical miles northwest of Puerto Bolívar in La Guajira Department (North).
“On January 15th I saw an airplane fly by. I had a mirror and started sending some signals” with the reflection of the sun; “When I saw him pass twice, I realized they had seen me,” Francois explained.
The Navy received information from the plane and rescued the man with the help of a merchant ship.
In December last year, Francois was working on repairing a sailboat off a port on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin in the Netherlands Antilles. Amid “adverse” weather conditions, the man was “pulled out to sea,” according to a naval bulletin.
“Without any navigational skills, he was lost and disoriented at sea; his efforts to maneuver the boat and onboard equipment were ineffective,” the text adds.
Francois tried to call his cell phone but lost the signal.
“I couldn’t do anything but sit and wait […] 24 days without a country, without anyone to talk to, without knowing what to do or where he is. It was difficult, sometimes I lost hope, I thought about my family,” Francois admitted.
He was turned over to immigration authorities to coordinate his return to his country.