NINE DAYS ALEJANDRINA PRAYED--
God was merciful!
This story has the sorrow of the age we live
in, for a number of people had the opportunity to save these people. By
not helping them, God gained even greater glory in their rescue.
BELIZE REPORTER-- May 16, 1999
Four Hondurans lost at sea were rescued by
police officers just beyond the reef at Caye Caulker last Sunday.
The four occupants of the boat had survived
a gruelling nine days lost at sea after their diesel-powered boat developed
A police rescue party from Caye Caulker found
them shaken by their experience, but otherwise in good health, immensely
relieved and glad to be on firm land again.
The owner of the boat, Ernesto Atilio and
his captain, Agusto Suazo, had made plans to leave the coastal town of
Trujillo in Honduras to sell produce on the Island of Guanaja. It was
a seven- hour trip, but one they had frequently made together.
Jose Ramon Fuñez and Alejan-drina Ramirez,
who were heading for their home in Guanaja, joined them as passengers.
The group left Trujillo on May 1 expecting
to be in Guanaja the same day. Instead they spent the most gruelling nine
days of their lives lost at sea.
Five hours into the journey the fuel pump
began to malfunction, and as night fell, the small boat lost all power.
Capt. Suazo used the boats compass and
a map to try to steer the boat topiano coversd Guanaja but after the second day
at sea, the steering mechanism gave way to the seas grip, putting
the craft at the mercy of the waves.
The produce Ernesto Atilio had on board proved
a godsend. They had watermelons and bananas and oranges. They also had
a good supply of fresh water.
Extra clothing came in handy as well. Diesel-soaked
pieces of clothing served as torches to signal for help to passing boats.
During their nine-day ordeal many boats approached the castaways but none
stopped to render assistance.
Despite all the setbacks, the captain managed
to keep his wits about him and kept track of the boats direction
on his compass. A new mattress Atilio had just bought served as a makeshift
sail, keeping the small boat moving.
On the third day strong waves from the south-west
battered the boat badly and forced its occupants to abandon the mattress
sail. The waves also smashed the glass windows of the boat and almost
swamped it. The occupants, who found themselves continuously bailing to
keep the boat afloat, decided to dump the heavy watermelons overboard.
Around midnight that same night, even as the
high waves continued to batter the boat, Ramon Funez saw another boat
passing nearby. He had tied himself to a stanchion to keep from being
thrown into the sea. In desperation he grabbed the only light bulb on
board, which the captain used to keep track of the compass, to signal
for help. The boat slowed, and stopped, but after seeing that there were
people alive onboard, continued on its way.
After a while the captain and his passengers
lost all sense of direction. Alone at sea, they had no clue as to where
Burlap sacks that contained Atilios
produce were ripped open to use as a makeshift sail. Wire and fishing
line served as needle and thread. Pieces of wood hammered together served
as a mast. Having put all these pieces together, the three resourceful
men and the woman kept watch by day, taking turns to sleep at night, but
always on the lookout for any sign of hope.
On the sixth day the wind died down, and the
boat made no progress. That night wind freshened somewhat, and the passengers
thought they saw traces of land. But their revived hopes did not stay
high. As dawn broke, all they could make out, as far as the eye could
see, was sea.
But on Sunday, the morning of their ninth
day at sea, the survivors could see land beyond the reef. By then the
craft was only 200 feet from the reef, and the captain became concerned
that the boat would slam against the reef, so he dropped anchor some 100
feet away. Passenger Jose Ramon Fuñez then volunteered to swim
to shore to ask for help.
A Caye Caulker fisherman found Fuñez
while he was still trying to reach the shore, and took him to the Caye
Caulker police, who promptly organized a rescue party.
Caye Caulker residents marvelled at the miracle
that had brought the castaways safe and sound to their island, and plied
them with food and clothing. The Government of Belize has also assisted
by repairing the boat and providing return passages for all four people.
It was God who saved us, Atilio
exclaimed, but it was Alejandrina who interceded for us. She prayed
constantly from her Bible that she carried with her. If it wasnt
for her prayers, we would not be alive today, he said.