A Dominica man lost at sea for weeks survived on seasonings and ketchup until being rescued in dramatic fashion this week.
The resourceful survivor managed to get a passing airplane’s attention after drifting nearly a thousand miles from home.
“At some point, I lost hope,” Elvis Francois, 47, said after his Jan. 15 rescue.
Prior to becoming lost at sea, Francois was making repairs on his sailboat off the island of St. Martin in the Netherlands Antilles in the eastern Caribbean last December, The Associated Press reported.
Ocean currents pushed his sailboat out to sea while he was working on the vessel. After realizing his predicament, Francois tried calling for help to no avail.
“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 said in a video shared by the Colombian Navy.
As he sat on his boat in the elements, his survival became paramount, so he checked his boat for food and managed to find whatever he could to stay alive.
“I have no food. It’s just a bottle of ketchup that was on the boat. Garlic powder, and Maggi. I mixed it up with some water,” Francois said.
Francois told authorities he drank rainwater he soaked up with a cloth while adrift in the Caribbean Sea for 24 days.
After finding a solution for food, he focused on being rescued. He wrote out the word “help” on the hull of his boat.
“Twenty-four days, no land. Nobody to talk to. Don’t know what to do. Don’t know where you are. It was rough,” Francois described on the video.
He said he had to keep removing water from his sailboat to keep it from sinking. Reports say he also tried to light a fire to send a distress signal without success.
Francois caught a lucky break when he saw an airplane flying overhead, and he flashed a mirror at the aircraft.
The Colombian coast guard responded to Francois’ location about 120 nautical miles northwest of the La Guajira peninsula Sky News reported.
Francois was taken to the port city of Cartagena by a passing container ship, the Colombian Navy said.
Despite being adrift for nearly a month, Francois was in good health upon his rescue on Jan. 18. He was sent to immigration officials to get him back home to Dominica.
“I thank the coast guard. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be telling the story,” Francois said after his rescue.
Many readers were amazed by the man’s survival skills.
“Resourceful guy! (And french fries are really just an excuse to eat ketchup, anyway.)” one reader wrote.
“The look in that man’s eyes shows he’s got an appreciation for life and is very thankful to be here. Glad he could make it,” wrote another.