Elvis Francois, a 47 year old man from Dominica, survived almost a month lost at sea by eating ketchup, garlic powder, and Maggi seasoning cubes. With resources and hope failing, he was eventually rescued after 24 days by a plane, passing container ship, and the Columbian navy.
Francois' trouble began in mid December, when he was ushered out to sea by strong currents while making repairs to his sailboat off the coast of St. Martin in the Netherlands Antilles, where he lives. Unable to navigate home, he was left to sit and wait for rescue. “I called my friends, they tried to contact me, but I lost the signal. There was nothing else to do but sit and wait.”
Francois sustained himself by mixing his condiments with water, which he acquired by catching rain with a cloth. He also reports regularly bailing sea water from his boat to keep it from sinking.
Francois describes the emotional impact of his time lost at sea. "24 days, no land, nobody to talk to, don't know what to do, don't know where you are, it was rough. At certain times I lose hope. I think about my family."
According to the Columbian navy, Francois's sailboat was spotted 120 nautical miles northwest of the La Guajira peninsula by a plane, which noticed Francois signaling with a mirror, and the word "HELP" carved into the boat's bow. A second fly by confirmed the emergency. Francois also claims that he attempted to light a fire as a distress signal, but was unable to do so.
After his rescue, the Columbian navy performed a medical check on Francois, and found him to be in good health. He was eventually turned over to immigration to help him get home. "I thank the coast guard," he says. "If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be telling the story.”