Fishermen share story of their close brush with death
February 18, 2011
Fishermen share story of their close brush with death

Following a close brush with death, former fisherman of the year Esmond Andrews is seriously contemplating hanging up his fishing rod and calling it a day.{{more}}

Andrews, 60, resident of Bellevue, along with fisherman, Collinford Fernandez, 39, of Stubbs, were rescued around 11am on Saturday, February 12, after Andrews’ vessel “Bless Jah” sank, leaving them stranded at sea for two days.

“I have been fishing all my life. It is what I know and love, but I just don’t know if I going to continue,” Andrews disclosed at his home on Wednesday.

Fisherman of the year in 2003, Andrews said they set sail on Wednesday morning headed to Mustique where they usually fish. While there, Andrews said they netted a few fish and stayed in Mustique for the entire day.

The following day, he said they were travelling in the South East direction while fishing for most of the day. At about 4pm, Andrews related that the water became rough and they were experiencing windy conditions.

“When this happen, I just feel like something hit the boat but I don’t know what it was. All I could see is just water coming into the cabin,” Andrews stated.

Andrews noted that they attempted to bail out the water, but this proved to be futile. He added that pumps were also used to try to get rid of the water, but these too were of no help.

With the boat’s bow partially submerged in the water, Andrews said he and Fernandez came to a decision to abandon the boat and use a life raft they had. Andrews said he watched helplessly as his boat sank about four hours later.

Andrews said they drifted for the remainder of Thursday night into Friday, when they continued to drift.

At about 2am on Saturday, morning, Andrews said he noticed that they were drifting off the coast of Canouan, so they decided to drop anchor close to a large reef and wait out the night.

“We waited the entire Saturday but we didn’t see any fishermen or anybody. I just wanted to survive,” he said. Asked if he was scared of losing his life, Andrews replied: “I wasn’t even thinking of that.”

Andrews added that they attempted to get closer to the land, but the anchor was stuck between the reefs. “We just couldn’t get it out, so we had to cut the rope and hope we would drift towards the land,” he said.

However, this was not the case. The raft capsized and the current pulled the men further from the land. Hanging on for dear life, Andrews said they drifted behind the Canouan airport where they saw a large rock. “We saw the rock and decided to jump and swim to it because the raft was filled with water…we swim for about 30 minutes before we reached,” he recounted.

While on the rock, Andrews said they fired flares into the air when they saw three yachts passing nearby. When he saw the yacht approaching, Andrews said they jumped back into the water and swam towards a dinghy that came to meet them. “I am just thankful to the people that rescued us, and I thank God for sparing my life. I really appreciate all of it.

Giving his account of the ordeal, Fernandez, a fisherman of 17 years, said there were moments when he felt as if his life was nearing its end. “When I see people ain’t been coming, I started to get a funny feeling and I know it was ah survival thing from there,” he said.

He noted that they sent out distress messages to the local Coast Guard but were unable to reach them. They, however, reached officials in Grenada who passed on messages to the men’s families and the Local Coast Guard..

Fernandez said the most uncomfortable, thing for him was the fact that they had to sleep on the raft that was water logged.

“That been just uncomfortable but because I is ah praying man, I just put my faith in God.

Both men were taken to the Canouan Police Station and then to the Health Centre.(KW)