THREE Guayaguayare fishermen lost at sea for the last five days survived by eating raw fish, drinking rain water, and creating a paddle with pieces of wood and two bucket covers.
Shaquille Charles, Frank Anthony Sandy, and Walter Whiteman paddled day and night in the “middle of nowhere” until they made it to the waters of Morne Diablo on Tuesday morning.
Up to late Tuesday evening Charles, Sandy, and Whiteman were being treated at the Mayaro District Health Facility after they collapsed on arrival to shore at their hometown in Guayaguayare.
Medical sources said that the men were in a dehydrated state and had to be given intravenous fluids immediately.
Last Friday around 3 pm, the fishermen left the Guayaguayare fishing port in a boat to fish.
When the three failed to return home, they were reported missing by their respective families to the Mayaro Police Station on Saturday.
Relatives, friends, and fishermen said they did not give up hope of finding the fishermen.
Whiteman’s sister Makeda said they prayed and searched the seawaters every day for the missing fishermen.
“And today (Tuesday) when I heard the news that my brother and his friends were found, I breathed a sigh of relief. We had never given up hope. It is a miracle. Their bodies are weak and they were in a dehydrated state but they are alive and safe. We are so happy.”
She said she believed it was a miracle how the three fishermen survived “when they told us that they had to eat raw fish which they had caught from the day and drink rain water.
“They said they were not about to die. They fought to survive and they did well. They wanted to reunite with their families.”
Makeda said their years as fishermen also allowed them to be innovative and create the paddles with pieces of wood and bucket covers.
“They had to use what they had in the boat and luckily there were two bucket covers and a piece of stick which they broke in half to make two paddles.
They had to turn on their survival mode which they did.”
She said if they had not come together and find ways to survive and instead begun to panic they would have possibly and starved at sea.
“They are very brave men. I am so happy that they are safe. They are all thankful to be alive.”
Charles’s sister Kardashar who also spoke briefly to her brother before he was taken to the Health Facility said that, after days of paddling, the fishermen landed in the sea waters of Morne Diablo on Tuesday morning.
“Shaquille said that there were other fishermen who saw them and assisted them at Morne Diablo. They were given drinking water. And they were given a cellphone to call their relatives.”
After the news that the fishermen were found, teams of fishermen from Guayaguayare immediately left the village and journeyed to Morne Diablo to bring their friends home.
Ryan Jones said he later learned from the men that the pirogue had experienced mechanical difficulty and could not restart.
“The boat began to drift and they had to act fast. The area where they had drifted to did not even have service so they could not call for help. Their survival story is really a miracle.”
Jones said while the Coastguard may have given up the search to find the men, fishermen of Guayaguayare and fishermen across TT were persistent.
He said the men could have been found earlier if they had received more assistance from law-enforcement agencies.