Man survives 24 days at sea eating ketchup, garlic powder and spice cubes

Man survives 24 days at sea eating ketchup, garlic powder and spice cubes

The Colombian Navy rescued a Dominican man who says he survived 24 days adrift on a sailboat in the Caribbean by eating ketchup, garlic powder and spice cubes.

Elvis Francois, 47, had the word “Help” scrawled in English on the boat’s hull, which officials said was key to his rescue.

The sailboat was spotted from the air 120 nautical miles northwest of the La Guajira Peninsula and Francois was being carried to the port city of Cartagena by a passing container ship, the Colombian Navy said in a statement on Wednesday.

Francois told Colombian authorities his ordeal began in December when currents swept the sailboat out to sea while he was conducting repairs off the island of St. Martin in the Netherlands Antilles, where he lives.

“I called my friends, they tried to contact me but I lost the signal. There was nothing to do but sit and wait,” Francois recalled in a video released by the Navy.

He subsisted on a bottle of ketchup, garlic powder and Maggi cubes.

Commander Carlos Urbano Montes told The Associated Press on Thursday that Francois said he was collecting rainwater with a cloth. He said Francois was in good health but told the officer he had lost weight.

Francois said on the videotape that he had to constantly remove water from the boat to keep it from sinking. He also attempted to start a fire to send out a distress signal, to no avail.

Eventually a plane passed and he signaled with a mirror. He said the Navy told him he was spotted just as the plane flew by again.

“At some point I lost hope and thought of my family, but I thank the Coast Guard. I wouldn’t be telling the story without her,” Francois said.

Urbano Montes said the sailboat was left at sea when Francois was picked up by the merchant ship.

The Navy said Francois was medically examined ashore and then turned over to immigration authorities for his return to Dominica.

–The Associated Press