The Colombian Navy rescued a man from… Dominica Who says he survived 24 days in the Caribbean on a sailboat by eating ketchup, garlic powder, and spice cubes.
Elvis François, 47, had written “help” in English on the boat’s hull, which officials said was key to his rescue.
The Colombian Navy said in a statement on Wednesday that the sailboat was seen from the air 120 nautical miles northwest of the Guajira peninsula and transported Francois to the port city of Cartagena aboard a passing container ship.
François told Colombian authorities his ordeal began in December when currents swept sailboats out to sea while he was carrying out repairs off the island of Saint Martin in the Netherlands Antilles, where he lives.
“I called my friends, and they tried to call me, but I lost the signal. There was nothing else to do but sit and wait,” François recalls in a video released by the Navy.
He said he lived on a bottle of ketchup, garlic powder, and Maggi cubes.
Carlos Urbano Montes said François said he collected rainwater with a piece of cloth. He said François was found to be in good health, but reported to the official that he had lost weight.
In the video, François said he had to constantly remove water from the boat to prevent it from sinking. He also tried to start a fire to send a distress signal, but to no avail.
Finally, a plane passed by and he pointed at it with a mirror. He said the Navy told him he was seen when the plane passed by again.
“At some point I lost hope and thought about my family, but I thank the coast guard. Without them, I would not have told the story,” François said.
Urbano Montes said the sloop was abandoned at sea when the Francois was picked up by the merchant ship.
The Navy said Francois received a medical exam ashore and was then handed over to immigration authorities for his return home to Dominica.
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