BOGOTA, Colombia (UKTN) — The Colombian Navy has rescued a man from Dominica who says he survived 24 days adrift in the Caribbean on a sailboat by eating ketchup, garlic powder and spice cubes.
Elvis Francois, 47, had scribbled the word “help” in English on the boat’s hull, which officials say was key to his rescue.
The sailboat in which Francois was adrift was spotted from the air 120 nautical miles northwest of the La Guajira peninsula and then escorted to the port city of Cartagena using a passing container ship, the Colombian navy said in a statement on Wednesday.
Francois told Colombian authorities his ordeal began in December when currents washed the sailboat out to sea as he made 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 said he lived on a bottle of ketchup, garlic powder and Maggi cubes.
Francois said he had to constantly drain water from the boat to keep it from sinking. He also tried to light a fire to send a distress signal without success.
Finally a plane passed by and he signaled with a mirror. He said the Navy told him he had been spotted when the plane passed again.
“At one point I lost hope and thought about my family, but I thank the Coast Guard. Without them I wouldn’t be telling the story’, François said.
The navy said François was in good health when he was rescued. After receiving a medical check ashore, he was handed over to immigration authorities for his return to Dominica.