The latest happened to three Honduran fishermen who were travelling to Placencia aboard their skiff named “JAPHET” when their engine failed.
That was one week ago and up until early this morning they were without food and had only a dwindling supply of water.
But a local vessel sighted them near Columbus Caye, 32 miles southeast of Belize City and this afternoon they touched down on Belizean shores, only slightly worse for wear and welcomed by anxious family members. Danly Kelly is one of the lucky trio.
“Well, it wasn’t quite good, you know!
Reporter: “So, you all left out on Tuesday, right?”
Danly Kelly: “Yes, sir”.
Reporter: “What happened after that?”
Danly Kelly: “Yes, then we all drifted and what we had all day was water until last night at 12:00 when some fishermen picked us up and gave us some food. So, it was like almost a week that we are in”.
Danly Kelly: “Well, we feel happy… we had hope then!”
Reporter: “Were you ever concerned that you would forever be lost at sea?”
Danly Kelly: “No, no. I have a GPS and I was checking what part we were floating to”.
Reporter: “Were you confident that eventually, you would end up in the coast of Belize?”
Danly Kelly: “Yes, sir. I just hoped that the currents would not carry us and that it would take us to the northeast. That is all we were hoping for”.
The Belize Coast Guard took responsibility for the group, bringing them safely into shore and ensuring they got urgent medical attention. The Coast Guard’s Operations Officer Lieutenant Gregory Soberanis explains.
“They are currently making their way to Coast Guard headquarters. So, they will be transported here and the ambulance will transport them to the hospital for further medical aid”.
Reporter: “As your crew on board gets ready to go, I understand you said that they are obviously dehydrated, but there are any acute medical situation in terms of, maybe some stroke or anything that is really an emergency, is there any acute situation there?”
Lieutenant Gregory Soberanis: “Yes, the medic on board has informed us that they are indeed in dire medical attention. So, we have our chief medic as well, who is there. As soon as they arrive, they will be transported to the hospital. He has already made arrangements with BERT for them to come and transport the Honduran nationals to the hospital”.
The Coast Guard were already on alert for the missing trio thanks to information received from Honduras and from their Belize contact. So how lucky were they? Lieutenant Soberanis says a different wind pattern could have produced a more difficult time.
Lieutenant Gregory Soberanis: “They were drifting towards the Belize coast. If they were drifting more east, then definitely would have been into open seas. It is a very fortunate situation for these gentlemen. Like I said, they have been [drifting] from the 6th up until now, which is 6 days already. So, being out there in the elements has definitely taken a toll on their bodies and our medic has confirmed that to us. So, we definitely want to ensure that they receive medical attention, once they arrive here at the headquarters”.
Reporter: “Is it the cause of the prevailing waves or is it the time of the year, the seasonal situation that they are drifting fortuity to the Belize coast?”
Lieutenant Gregory Soberanis: “Yes, it is definitely the time of the year. If you look at the weather forecast, the way the wind is blowing currently, it worked in their favor. So, that is definitely a plus for these gentlemen at this time”.
The group will be treated locally and sent back home, but according to Kelly, he plans to be back out at sea once well-rested.