Dominican Man Tells How He Survived While Lost At Sea For 24 Days

Photo Credit: Colombian Navy press office via AP


After being lost at sea for 24 days, a Dominican sailor who was rescued by the Colombian navy said he survived on ketchup, garlic powder, and seasoning cubes. According to The Associated Press, Elvis Francois, 47, told Colombian authorities that he was repairing his sailboat off the island of St. Martin in December when sweeping currents swept it adrift in the Caribbean sea.

“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, who resides in St. Martin, said in a video the navy released.

According to officials, Francois scribbling “help” in English on the hull of the boat was critical in locating and rescuing him. Francois’ sailboat was eventually spotted 120 nautical miles northwest of the La Guajira peninsula by a plane. The Colombian navy said in a statement on Wednesday that a container ship passing by picked up Francois and transported him to the port city of Cartagena.

Cmdr. Carlos Urbano Montes told the news outlet that Francois harvested rainwater with a cloth. And, while he claimed Francois was in good health when he was discovered, he also claimed the sailor told officials he had lost weight.

Francois also stated in the videotape that he kept his boat afloat by frequently scooping water out of it. He went on to say that his attempts to send a distress signal by lighting a fire were futile. The sailor eventually used a mirror to attract the attention of a passing plane. The Associated Press reported that he was informed by the navy that he had been spotted when the plane flew over again.

“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,” said Francois.

According to Urbano Montes, Francois’ sailboat was left behind after he was rescued. The navy also stated that when the rescued sailor arrived on shore, he was subjected to a medical examination before being handed over to immigration officials for his return to Dominica.



Leave a Reply