Imagine going adrift for 24 days with only a ketchup bottle, a few spices, and rainwater to eat.
That was 47-year-old Elvis Francois‘ exact situation when he got lost at sea after repairing his boat outside the Caribbean island of St. Martin in Netherlands Antilles.
According to Colombian officials, the event occurred in December while Francois was inside working on the boat, and the currents pushed it into the middle of the sea. Francois said that he could not return to land because he lacked navigational skills.
Francois was rescued this week by the Colombian Navy, 120 miles northwest of Cartagena. As they were passing by, Francois used a mirror as a signal to get their attention and had the word help written on the ship’s hull.
While talking about his experience, Francois disclosed that during the first moments of being adrift, he tried to contact his friends and vice versa, but he had lost cell service.
“I called my friends, they tried to contact me, but I lost the signal. There was nothing else to do but sit and wait,” he said in an official video released by the Colombian Navy.
Later, Francois mentioned that he had “lost hope” because his previous attempts to get rescued, including starting a fire, had failed. However, after the Colombian Navy saved him, Francois expressed he couldn’t be more thankful.
“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.
On January 18, Commander Carlos Urbano Montes told the public that Francois was given a medical exam and had a good bill of health despite losing some weight.The navy also reported that Francois will go back home to Dominica after turning him over to immigration officials.