Skip to comments.Fishermen rescued after 9 months adrift 8,000 km from home
Posted on 08/19/2006 2:24:19 PM PDT by Valin
Three Mexican fishermen who disappeared in the Pacific Ocean nine months ago have been rescued nearly 8,000 kilometres from their home, saying they survived by eating seagulls, drinking rainwater and reading the Bible.
A Taiwanese tuna boat scooped the men out of the water about halfway between Hawaii and Australia on Aug. 9. They had drifted all the way from San Blas, a fishing village about 160 kilometres north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where they were last seen in late October or early November, 2005.
Fishermen in San Blas, a hamlet of about 8,000 people, are celebrating the men's astonishing survival. "God is so great that he helped them all the time. Everybody is excited. They are surprised. They don't know how it happened that they are alive," Antonio Aguayo, a sport fishing guide in San Blas, said in a telephone interview yesterday.
"Nobody has ever been lost for so long and been alive to tell about it."
"Not even Christopher Columbus stayed on the ocean so long," Mr. Aguayo said.
Salvador Ordonez Vasques, Jesus Eduardo Vidana Lopez and Lucio Rendon Bacerra left San Blas on a short shark-fishing trip on Oct. 25, according to Mr. Aguayo. They took an eight-metre fibreglass boat.
Mr. Aguayo said the men took only enough fuel for a few days and unexpectedly ran into a storm. They may have used up their fuel travelling in the wrong direction, thinking they were headed back to shore, according to Mr. Aguayo.
The men's families concluded they had perished at sea.
"Once one week went by, two weeks, a month, three months, we all lost hope that they would be found alive," said Raul Rendon Perez, Mr. Rendon's uncle. He received the joyous news on Tuesday morning at the family ranch, where his nephew has lived for 15 years.
"That kind of life in the high seas, without food or water, you can't last more than a month," said Saul Ordonez Ceja, cousin to both Mr. Rendon Bacerra, 27, and Mr. Ordonez Vasquez, 37. "It was a miracle."
As the months passed at sea, the men's boat drifted farther and father west, until they reached the waters north of Baker Island -- between the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, and about 8,000 kilometres from the Mexican fishing village they left.
Crew members aboard a Taiwanese trawler spotted the men's small boat and realized they were alive, said Eugene Muller, manager of Koo's Fishing Company Ltd.
"They seemed to be in very good health, given what they just went through," Mr. Muller said in an interview from Majuro, the capital city of the Marshall Islands. "Other than being very hungry and having lost a lot of weight, our crew said they didn't need any medical attention."
The survivors told a Mexican radio station that it rained nearly every day of their ordeal, providing them with fresh water to drink. One of the men had a watch that kept track of the days. They passed time by reading a copy of the Bible one of the men brought along.
"We ate raw fish, ducks and seagulls. We took down any bird that landed on our boat and we ate it like that, raw," Mr. Vidana, 27, said from aboard the trawler. He said they frequently saw ships during their months at sea, but were lucky to be picked up because they were asleep when trawler's crew saw them.
"We never lost hope," Mr. Vidana said. "They passed us by, but we kept on seeing them. Every week or so, sometimes we'd go a month without seeing one, but we always saw them so we never lost hope."
Some reports said five fishermen were originally aboard the Mexican boat, but only three survived. Others said the men had only been at sea for three months. Friends and relatives of the men gave the National Post varying reports of when they had set out, saying it was in late October or early November, 2005. They agreed only three men were on board.
Both of their boat's 200-horsepower outboard motors were disabled.
"It looks like they had engine problems because their motors had been dismantled and it seemed like they were trying to salvage parts from one to get the other working," Mr. Muller said.
He stressed there is confusion about the survivors' ordeal because there is a language barrier between them and the trawler's crew.
"What details we have are from the Mexican fishermen through our Chinese crew," Mr. Muller explained. "Some of the details are murky right now."
The Mexican government is flying an official to the Marshall Islands to greet the men. The tuna boat is expected to be at sea for another 10 days to two weeks before returning to Majuro.
Meanwhile, celebrations in Mexico are already underway. Dozens of Mexican newspapers carried stories of the men's tale.
Mr. Ordonez Ceja described his cousins as "adventurers" who are still bachelors. Both are hard workers, he said. The family is planning a party and Roman Catholic Mass to mark the rescued fishermen's return.
"I lived so sad," Francisca Perez, Mr. Rendon's grandmother, told the Televisa news station.
"Now that my grandson is alive, I just want him to come home."
You don't "fish for shark" at 30 mph and your right about trawl vs troll. Humboldt Bay was home to many trawlers before they fished themselves out of business...
I went really low on the fuel consumption because the biggest outboard I ever owned was a 125.
I just looked up Nissan 140 HP, they drink 15gal/hr. Those twin 200's have to drink at least 35gal/hr.
Nothing makes sense in this story
BTW...did you know that as a taxpayer you own several former trawlers?
I'd never correct you on anything automotive though.
A man's gotta know his limitations
Oh yeah, and the money that was paid for them went to buy some other kind of fishing boat. That is unless you're talking about the impounds from the Marielle (sp?) boat lift.
It's all cool. I'm just releating what I've seen in my travels delivering yachts and fishing the coasts from Washington to Panama. I know that Mexican fishermen are a simple people, in a simple world, and the simplest explanation in their case is probably what happened. Mexicans will hang whatever they can get their hands on on the end of a skiff, and perhaps they only used one engine at a time, so when one goes belly up they have another. We're both speculating here, so I guess we'll have to wait for the rest of the story. :)
Some of these guys didn't take the buyout and bought a couple of thousand crab pots and are cleaning out the crab beds in the fist 7 days of the season killing the 200 pot boats baring any Dec storms that sand in the pots and smother the catch...
Can't argue with that. Like I said, I've got no proof, but I've learned to listen to my belly.
Just out of curiosity, 100 ton, 100 mi?
Don't understand the question, but I've delivered, crewed, or fished on yachts up to 75'. The heaviest was a small tuna seiner converted into a mothership for a sportfisher. I think that's what you are asking.
I saw a pickup truck today that was the size of a Coast Guard Cutter...
Did you buy it?
Probably a different ticket for what you do. I mated a lot on head boats and was talking about a paying passenger ticket.
Um, that would be ... east. Northeast would have worked, too. Southeast, sure. But east. Any non-east direction, like, say, west, is no good.
I'm not much of a sailor, but I think I'd try to head towards the sunrise in the morning, and away from it in the evening. Look, ma, no GPS!
Just took in your 'about page.' Dad's OK!
My biggest tuna was a 350# big eye, stand up fishing.
You ain't seen chaos till you mate on a 65' with 30 passengers on one side and the yellow fin bite is on! At night!
Granted, most of 'em were in the 75-100# class, but it's a trip!
Oh no, if a license was ever required somebody else always had the honor. I thought of getting a license at one time. ;)
Me too back in the late 80's. Then they started requireing W2's to prove your time (or at least that was the rumor) and I couldn't make another 3yrs mating, so I went back to the phone Co. A lot to be said for a steady paycheck and bennys.
"It says they were shark fishing on an 8 meter(about 25 foot) boat and with 5 guys onboard you gotta wonder where they were going to put the shark!"
They tied them alng side.
I've run across shark fishermen in the typical mexican ponga handlining shark 70-80 miles to sea in the middle of the night with no lights when we were going from San Diego to Cabo.
Those idiots are lucky they don't get cut down, the only way we missed them is spotting them on radar and that was only at close range because they only stick above the water about a foot.