Father, son fight fire at sea

A Cayman Brac fisherman had an angel, in the form of his teenage son, looking out for him during a recent fishing trip that was anything but routine.

Margarito Chantilope was injured when his boat caught fire and 14-year-old Jay was there to make sure he made it safely to shore.

Mr. Chantilope says the two set out last month for a day of king fishing when they noticed water coming into the boat.

‘I had a spare water pump in the boat,’ he said. ‘As I was installing the new one the wires sparked and, ‘whoosh’ flames flew up into my face.’

Mr Chantilope says once he recovered he immediately called 9-1-1 while Jay, who says he was terrified, sprang into action and tried to put out the blaze.

‘After the boat caught fire I grabbed a bucket and started to put water on it and the fire just kept firing back up.’ Said Jay.

Despite suffering burns to the left side of his face and hand, Mr. Chantilope was able to turn the boat toward shore and he and Jay tried to control the blaze that continued to flare up again and again fuelled by the winds.

He says when it was apparent that they were fighting a losing battle – according to Jay there were small popping or exploding sounds coming from the boat – father and son grabbed two life jackets and starting swimming to shore.

Knowing that he had been injured Jay says he kept a close eye on his 62-year old father’s progress.

‘He was coughing and I asked if he needed help and he said ‘no I’m OK’, but I could still hear him coughing and I gave him my life jacket.’

Mr Chantilope admits his life jacket was not supporting him properly and he did have to stop and rest several times.

Seeing his father continue to struggle Jay says he knew they needed to move quickly.

Jay told his dad to grab hold of his foot and he would get them to shore faster.

Swimming free style in the open water with only one available leg Jay says he ‘started swimming as fast as he could’.

The Chantilopes injuries – Jay also suffered burns to his leg – were not serious and have since healed.