3 Day Trip Becomes 3 Week Ordeal For Men Lost At Sea

By iScienceTimes Staff on December 23, 2012 12:18 PM EST

Lost At Sea
People have been getting lost at sea almost as long as there have been boats. This picture is from a rescue effort after the Titanic sunk. Surviving at sea is no easy feat, as two Jamaican fisherman discovered after a three-day trip turned into a three-week ordeal. (Photo: Reuters)

Not quite a three-hour tour, but close.

A three-day trip became a three-week ordeal for two Jamaican fishermen who became stranded in the Caribbean after the engine on their boat malfunctioned. Everton Gregory and John Sobah, set sail on Nov. 20 from the southeastern coast of Jamaica to catch fish for their employer, the non-profit charity Food For The Poor. Their day progressed like any other as they hauled in the tuna, wahoo, and mahi-mahi that thrive in the waters off of a place called Finger Bank. They had provisions on the boat, but not enough for a three-day trip that becomes a three-week ordeal. They brought 14 buckets of ice, 16 gallons of water and a few bags of bread, cereal and fruits. 

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Marva Espuet, the owner of the boat the fishermen took to Finger Bank, told the Associated Press that she had packed extra provisions for the men but, ultimately, found herself wishing she had gone with them on the trip.

''If I had gone, there would have been two boats going,'' said the 52-year-old woman, a longtime friend of both fishermen.

Access to fresh water is the key for surviving a three-day trip that becomes a three-week ordeal, and although 16 gallons may sound like a lot it is less than half the minimum amount required for two full grown men over a three-week period of time. Most emergency preparedness kits advise storing one gallon of water per person per day, meaning the men only took about a week's worth of water with them. When their three-day trip became a three-week ordeal, finding enough water to survive became the chief challenge.

In order to survive their three-hour trip that became a three-week ordeal the men went to extreme measures to find the water they needed to survive. After their supplies ran out, the fisherman began drinking the ice melt that had been keeping their fish fresh. Anyone who has ever cleaned a cooler after a long day of fishing knows exactly how unappealing the ice melt can become; discolored, murky and reeking of fish. Still, friends and family felt the men would survive the three-day trip that became a three-week ordeal because they were trained fisherman and knew some basic survival techniques. Nakhle Hado, a manager for Food For The Poor, told the AP she was concerned for the men, but didn't assume the worst.

"My gut was telling me that they were still alive," she said. "In case something happens, they don't have to think twice. They know how to react."

The raw fish, coupled with the provisions they took with them, barely provided enough nourishment. The men ran out of water eventually, and survived the last few days of their three-day trip that became a three-week ordeal without anything to drink. The average person can only survive three to five days without water, some have made it a week. When the men were rescued by the Colombian Navy on Saturday they needed emergency treatment for dehydration and malnourishment before they could be cleared for a flight home to Jamaica after their three-day trip became a three-week ordeal.  Even the rescue effort was fraught with peril. Once the fishermen were spotted by a Colombian Navy helicopter in Lack of Sleep cay near the Colombian coast it took two days for a vessel to reach them because of inclement weather. Everton plans to fish again, but Soba told the AP that although he doesn't know what he will do next he is sure of one thing.

''I'm not going to go fishing again. No way," he said.

Although a three-day trip becoming a three-week ordeal is a harrowing survival story, it pales in comparison to the story of a trio of Mexican fisherman who had a three-day trip turn into a nine-month ordeal. Those men survived a world-record nine months at sea subsisting on rainwater gathered in buckets and the fish, turtles and seabirds they managed to catch using improvised tools they built by deconstructing their boat's engine.

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