“God saved us from drowning”
FIVE fishermen give thanks to God for sparing their lives after their boat sank Saturday night during a fishing expedition aboard Crystal Eye on the west coast of Tobago.
According to reports, the 55ft trawler with a 350hp engine, commanded by James Kirwan and owned by Christopher Ragbir, started taking on water around 7pm near the maritime border with Grenada. The men on board were Kirwan, 59; Kyle Dyer, 31; Azim Bakch, 35; Keston Frederick, 36; and Jérôme Nicome, 63 years old.
Before the boat was submerged, distress calls were sent but the signal was too weak.
Frightened and in freezing conditions, the men, wearing life jackets, jumped into the Caribbean Sea as the boat sank.
The men believe it was God who kept them alive long enough for a Bahamian ship, the Siem Spearfish, to spot them and pull them out of the choppy waters. They had been drifting at sea for almost two hours.
The Bahamian vessel was able to respond as it was believed to be in TT waters under contract to a local company.
The men, wearing the life jackets that saved them no less than 24 hours earlier, were greeted at Port of Spain harbor by emotional family members on Sunday evening after arriving aboard the TT Spirit.
The men said it was their prayers to God that delivered them from the tragedy.
Nicome told Newsday: “Thank you God, all the honor, glory and praise. Anyone who hears me now, trusts in Christ. I tell you, because he is the one who saved us. God allowed us to drift into the ship that saved us. No one saw us there.”
Dyer added: “The waters were choppy, really choppy. If it wasn’t for God, we wouldn’t be alive today.”
Tobago Fishermen‘s Association (ATFA) president Curtis Douglas told Newsday on Sunday that Crystal Eye’s Mayday calls were “muffled” and it was difficult to hear what the person was saying.
“The news was coming in. We couldn’t get the exact information because our radio wasn’t picking up too clear. It was after midnight at 1 a.m. (Sunday morning),” Douglas said.
Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) Director Allan Stewart praised the Bahamas crew on Sunday.
“They spent quite a bit of time in the water before they were rescued. They are very lucky to have survived,” he said.
He added: “Just after midnight we received a call from the TT coastguard that there had been an incident at sea where the vessel had sunk. They would have asked if we could provide a canoe to assist in the transfer of personnel from the Bahamas vessel, because of the large hull they were unable to enter Scarborough harbour.”
Stewart said the Bahamian ship, at around 2 a.m., finally decided to cast off one of its lifeboats to bring the men alongside the harbour.”
Newsday understands that one of the rescued men, Frederick, suffered from hypothermia.
Stewart said: “However, he was doing very well after being treated on the ship and examined by port emergency medical services. None of the men had to be taken to hospital.
“They had nothing on them, just the clothes Spearfish’s captain had given them.”
Stewart said the families of all the men have been contacted and informed of the situation.
They were placed in a guest house to spend the night and left Tobago aboard the TT Spirit at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Douglas said the ATFA lobbied for two lifeboats for situations like these.
“So in those cases we would probably be one of the first responders to be able to deal with that. We’ve been asking for that for a long time, so in situations where local or international boats are in distress, once in our waters we will respond .”
He said satellite phones are also needed to help modernize the fishing industry in Tobago.