Woman tells of being lost at sea: I survived on ice and water

“There is still a father above. We had faith and we never gave up,” Maharaj said yesterday outside her Bayshore Avenue home. Recalling her experience, she said the group was near their destination in Tobago on February 27 when they ran out of gas and drifted into Venezuelan waters. “As we kept on drifting, we mashed up the ply in the boat and started to oar. We built a sail with our jerseys and burned fires, but still no response. We saw a barge and tried to reach it, and then saw a tug. They saw us waving and paddling, but they never came to us. 

“We started to drift on Friday into Saturday around 2 am. There was gas coming for us, but they could not find us at the location we gave. I did not panic because I am accustomed to the sea, but everybody in the boat was frightened and we started to hold hands and prayed. We real prayed and we drifted for three days. “We did not have any food on the boat, we only had ice and water. I sucked ice, drank water and vomited. 

Boat captain Rasheed Mohammed said the treatment in Venezuela was excellent as authorities there made sure they were fed, had showers and a place to sleep. He said there was even a football match with the Venezuelans, which the foreigners won. However, he said he has to retrieve the boat, which is still in Carapano, as fishing was how he fed his three children.

Coast Guard: Conflicting reports threw us off

Despite the group’s criticism of the coast guard’s response, communication officer Lt Cmdr Kirk Jean-Baptiste said efforts were made to find the missing crew, but conflicting information given by their families threw off the search. Jean-Baptiste said the first report was made 14 hours after they went missing and it stated that eight people were aboard the pirogue and did not reach their destination. Four hours later, another report stated that 10 people were aboard.

“When we spoke to the relatives on land, we could not get names, the correct amount of people or a decent location of where boat shut down. Search patterns commenced based on the information we got and we had to calculate our search based on where and when they last were,” Jean Baptiste said. He said anyone planning to go on sea should be properly equipped. 

The crew
1. Trevor Cook
2. Kerwin Cook
3. Darron King
4. Winston King
5. John alexander
6. Anson Jacob
7. Errol Tassie
8. Leroy Gordon
9. Keston Narine
10. Boaw Mohammed
11. Hendy Scott
12. Christina Maharaj
13. Sheniece Garcia

The disappearance

On February 2, the crew mostly from San Fernando, left the Marabella waterfront on the pirogue Davi Ann PFZ 94 at 4.30 pm for a lime in Tobago. A few miles from shore, the pirogue ran out of gas and drifted into Venezuelan waters. They were later rescued and taken to an island off the mainland. It was only Sunday the crew returned to Trinidad through arrangements by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Venezuelan Embassy.


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