Six boaters who have been missing for 11 days after leaving the Cayman Islands for Roatan, Honduras, on 15 July, were warned by a fellow seaman moments before they left of the dangers of the open sea.
Ryan Oneil Pouchie-Miller, a fisherman on the Kimberly Dawn said, “I saw them at around 7pm that night. I had just finished sanding a boat at the Harbour House Marina and went to get some ice from the machine, when I saw them also getting some ice.”
Mr. Pouchie-Miller said he asked the men where they were going, to which they replied, “Roatan”.
“‘There is a lot of open sea between us and Roatan’, I told them.”
He said the men told him they were going to take a chance, after he told them it was dangerous.
The journey from the Cayman Islands is roughly 370 miles.
“The boat was loaded with stuff and she was very low in the water because of this,” said Mr. Pouchie-Miller. From my experience on the ocean, I could see that one mistake out there and they could have been in trouble.”
According to Mr. Pouchie-Miller, who has been working on boats for more than 15 years, as well as fisherman Martin Ramos, who has more than 30 years experience on the seas, boats must travel in a southwest direction en route to Roatan. They added that during the time the men left on their journey to Roatan, the seas were moving east to west, making the probability of problems more of a threat.
“When the breezes shift, the seas also change direction,” Mr. Pouchie-Miller said. He pointed out that with all the cargo on-board, which he surmised were supplies such as stoves, fridges and other cargo, “The boat was already sinking before she left.”
When asked about the likelihood of the men falling prey to pirates, the men pointed out that this type of activity was not a great threat in the waters between the Cayman Islands and Honduras.
After five days searching and covering in excess of 4,000 square miles, the air and sea search for missing vessel Miss Janice was suspended on 26 July.
Despite an extensive search involving The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Marine and Air Operations Units as well as the Lynx helicopter from RFA Wave Ruler, no trace of the vessel or crew has been found.
“The RCIPS continues to liaise with law enforcement and coast guards from Honduras, Cuba, Belize, Mexico and Jamaica. The Service is also receiving continued support from RFA Wave Ruler and the regional USCG to establish the current whereabouts of the vessel. As we are in a high shipping area, all cargo ships, domestic vessels, tankers and cruise ships that use the waters around the Cayman Islands have also been asked to report any sightings,” read a statement from the RCIPS.
Malcolm Kay, the officer leading the search, said, “I have spoken at length with the family members of the crew and they fully understand and support the decision to suspend the search. As and when we receive any further information we will of course resume searching if appropriate.
But in the absence of any sightings or concrete information we cannot search indefinitely. We continue to speak with our counterparts in neighbouring jurisdictions and we will, of course, maintain close contact with the family members, providing them with the necessary support they need while we seek to find some answers for them.”