The crew of a Caymanian fishing vessel saved the life of a Dominican man who was found adrift in a 26-foot boat about 180 miles south-west of Grand Cayman.
The man who was rescued on Tuesday had apparently been at sea since mid-June after leaving Dominica on a trip with two friends. He told crew members of the Caymanian craft Bottom Line that he had been living on raw fish and rainwater for more than two weeks.
The man’s two friends died on the journey. He was forced to throw their rotting corpses over the side of the vessel.
‘He was trying to tell me that they were going from island to island,’ Bottom Line Captain Cawell Bush said. ‘Then he was going to the last island and one of the engines on the boat caught on fire.’
Police said the Dominican man’s 26-foot craft lost all power while it was out to sea.
‘That night we were taking him back (to Cayman) I didn’t figure he was gonna make it,’ Capt. Bush said. ‘When I talked to him the last time before he went down low…he was crying. I asked him what happened. He said he was thinking about his friends; he said the last one (who died) was like his brother.’
‘It is tragic that his two companions did not make it and dreadful for him to have to cast his friends into the sea,’ said Royal Cayman Islands Police Marine Unit Inspector Brad Ebanks. ‘Clearly, he had no other option.’
Bottom Line, a 48-foot fishing boat co-owned by Wayne Cato and Dennis Downs, arrived back in George Town around 5.30pm Wednesday. The rescued seaman was immediately taken to hospital by crew members.
The Dominican man, believed to be in his mid 30s, is still being treated at George Town hospital. Doctors there said he would likely be OK to return home on Sunday.
Caymanian authorities and the US Coast Guard could not respond to the situation on Tuesday afternoon in their own craft. The RCIPS Marine Unit aided by radioing instructions on treating severe dehydration and malnutrition victims to the crew of Bottom Line.
Inspector Ebanks said the man would likely have died if not for the efforts of the Caymanian fishing vessel’s crew.
‘They did a fantastic job not only in spotting this man but also reviving him and providing the necessary care…to bring him to shore alive,’ Mr. Ebanks said.
According to Captain Bush, spotting credit goes to his son, Seawell Bush.
‘I was looking out to the north, and I saw this little thing bob up out of the water,’ Capt. Bush said. ‘And I said to my son…what is that out there? If that’s a boat, it’s got to be a pretty small boat.’
‘Well, I didn’t pay it no more mind, and (my son) came back and said ‘no, but dad it’s somebody…there’s somebody waving.’ So, I keep on going up to it and I got to it and saw this boat with a guy in it.’
The man was laying down in the disabled 26-foot craft. Capt. Bush said he appeared very weak and somewhat delirious.
‘He told me he had about 15-20 days that he didn’t have no water,’ Capt Bush said.
Capt. Bush said the man told him he caught rainwater in a container and mixed it with seawater to have something to drink. He also said the man had some rotting fish in a bag that he had apparently caught while out at sea.
‘It was a lucky thing it was beautiful weather (the day of the rescue), or we probably wouldn’t have gotten him by the boat,’ Capt. Bush said.