While making repairs on his boat, 47-year-old Elvis Francois was hit by heavy currents and pulled out to sea. According to The Associated Press, after making contact with his friends, he lost his signal. Unable to call for help, Francois would remain adrift for 24 days.
In a video released by the Colombian navy, Francois said, “I called my friends, they tried to contact me, but I lost the signal. There was nothing else to do but sit and wait.”
Without food and a way to communicate, circumstances were dire. After searching his boat, he only found a bottle of ketchup, garlic powder, and seasoning cubes. He somehow managed to survive by rationing the ketchup and seasoning, and using a cloth to collect rainwater.
He was rescued after a pilot saw his mirror signal and “help” sign, which was written across his boat’s hull, and taken to the port city of Cartagena by a nearby container ship. Fortunately, he was found in good health, but had lost considerable weight.
“At some point I lost hope and thought about my family, but I thank the coast guard. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be telling the story,” Francois said.
Aside from hunger, another major challenge Francois faced was having to remove water from the boat in order to keep it from sinking. Attempts at lighting a fire had failed too. After his rescue, he was given a medical check and allowed to return to his home in the island country of Dominica.