Elvis François was refitting a boat on the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean just before Christmas when strong currents pulled the schooner out to sea.
With no sailing experience or knowledge of navigation, he tried using a cell phone, but it had no coverage and no large battery. Instead, he had to scoop up more and more water from the sailboats, which were leaking.
He had carved the word “HELP” on the hull of the boat, but none of the boats he saw in the distance picked up the distress call. To get their attention, he waved wildly and even set part of his boat on fire. Finally he saw a plane.
I had a mirror and tried to point. They flew over the boat twice until I understood they saw me. Thanks to them I am alive, says the 47-year-old in a video recording from Thursday, the day after he was rescued about 220 kilometers northwest of Colombia, just over 1,500 kilometers from St. Martin.
“Without being able to sail, he became disoriented and lost. His attempts to steer the boat were unsuccessful,” the Colombian Maritime Rescue said in a statement.
Elvis François is said to be relatively healthy, but he has lost a lot of weight. The Colombian authorities will transfer him to his home in Sint Maarten in the next few days.
“Falls down a lot. Internet fanatic. Proud analyst. Creator. Wannabe music lover. Introvert. Tv aficionado.”