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Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2010 10:55:40 PM

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Still no word on missing fishermen

Saturday, 03 April 2010
Family member of the five fishermen from the Old harbour Bay fishing village in St. Catherine are still awaiting word on the whereabouts of their loved ones who went missing at sea on March 19.

A duty officer at the Jamaica Defence Force coast in Port Royal told RJR News today that the services of the US Coast Guard have been requested in aid of the search for the five missing men.

The authorities in the Cayman Islands have also been contacted and are on the lookout for Gersham Townsend
, 40 otherwise called "Clement", and the other men known only as "Fearon", "Keith", "Shoot First" and "Dillon".

Family members reported the men missing when they left the Old Harbour Fishing Village on March 19 but did not return on the expected date.

It is understood that a fisherman in Pedro Cays who was been in contact with the missing men claims that they might have gone outside of Jamaica's coastal waters.

Source:Radio Jamaica
Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010 1:52:00 AM

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List of missing fishermen grows

Tuesday, 06 April 2010

Mystery surrounds the disappearance of a fisherman in Negril, Westmoreland who has not been seen since a spear fishing expedition with four others on Sunday.

Reports from the Negril Police are that Anthony Getten, otherwise called "Mug" went out to sea with the other divers near to Tug Boat Point close to the west end of Negril.

The men who returned from sea without Mr. Getten said after the dive Mr. Getten was nowhere to be found.

They told police they waited some time for him to resurface but the 34-year old fisherman never did.

The Marine Police say they are continuing the search for Mr. Getten, however his relatives say enough is not being done.

"From Sunday when he went out and did not return, the police have not come to talk to any one of us about it and this morning, they said the Coast Guard went out but did not find anything. I'm so disappointed with the police ... I think they should have been doing more," said Santina Kerr, Mr. Getten's niece.

Mr. Getten's disappearance at sea follows a similar incident in Old Harbour, St. Catherine where five fishermen went missing after leaving the fishing village on March 19.

Source:Radio Jamaica

Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010 1:54:31 AM

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Search for missing fishermen called off

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard has suspended the search for the five fishermen from the Old Harbour Bay Community in St. Catherine who have been missing since the middle of last month.

A duty officer at the Port Royal-based facility told RJR News that a further search for the men has been postponed.

The officer said and that they are awaiting word from the other countries outside of Jamaica to see if the men have been located.

On March 19, the men left the Old Harbour Bay area for a fishing expedition and were to return one week later.

When they failed to return, family members alerted the police and a search was launched.

Source:Radio Jamaica
Posted: Friday, May 7, 2010 1:58:34 AM

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Missing fishermen found in Belize

Monday, 26 April 2010

There are mixed blessings on Monday morning for members of the fishing fraternity in Old Harbour Bay, St. Catherine, following news that two of the five fishermen reported missing last month have been found alive.

RJR News spoke with the common-law wife of one of the surviving fishermen, 36-year-old Anthony Hibbert otherwise called "Shoot First" who said her husband is alive and well.

Our news centre has learnt that another member of the group, known as Dillon was also rescued.

She described how she discovered that her spouse had been found.

"I got a call from a lady and she put me on to a call from Belize. The gentleman came on the phone and asked me when last I heard from my boyfriend, what happened to him and I said I heard from him the 13th of March and I spoken to him on the 14th and after that I didn't hear anything from him and I heard that he went missing. He asked me what his name was and said they found them and they put my boyfriend on the phone," she said.

The men were reportedly picked up by a large ship near the Belize coast and are receiving medical attention in that country.

The men left Jamaican shores on March 19 on a fishing expedition and did not return when they were expected a week later.

The Jamaica Defence Force, Coast Guard had launched several searches for the men.

Posted: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 12:27:48 AM

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Jamaican fisherman back from Haitian hell

Published: Tuesday | October 12, 2010
Fitzroy Linton. - Photo by Gareth Davis
Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer


WHEN LOCAL fisherman Fitzroy Linton was sentenced to seven months for illegal entry in a Haitian court in 2007, little did he know that he would spend the next three years incarcerated in a cell with 64 other inmates under what he described as inhumane conditions.

The memories of seeing burnt bodies being chopped up and prepared for cooking, and the daily beating of inmates by prison warders are but a few of the painful recollections which continue to haunt the youngster who hung his head, fighting back the tears as he spoke to The Gleaner in Port Antonio yesterday.

"There were a lot of things I was forced to do in order to survive," the 24-year-old fisherman said. "We were crammed in what is probably a 10x10 cell, all 64 of us. We were fed two times per day, at 11 a.m and at 5 p.m. We had no drinking water, and, therefore, had to buy water off the street, which was dirty and smelly."

Linton said he left Jamaica on May 18, 2007 with two other fishermen in a 28-foot fibreglass boat when they suffered engine failure and drifted far away from Jamaica's waters as a result of high winds and rough seas.

He recalled that they drifted for more than five days, and during that time, he fell ill and was severely dehydrated and weak.

According to the fisherman, he awoke one morning to the sound of strange, loud noises and was pulled out of the boat by people whose language he did not understand. Linton said he was transported to a hospital, where he was treated by doctors and taken into custody by the police the following day.

"It was then that I realised that I was in Haiti," he added. "I could not understand what they were saying, however. I was locked up in jail sometime in June of that year, and I appeared in court in December, where I was sentenced to seven months on a charge of illegal entry. As a result, I was placed in a cell with 64 other persons."

Linton is uncertain about what happened to his two colleagues with whom he had left Jamaica.

A chance to escape came during the January 12 earthquake which devastated Haiti and claimed more than 200,000 lives.

"The prison block was rocking to and fro, and there were screams for help from all angles," he said. "We climbed atop the roof of the cell, which was covered with zinc, but two inmates, who were ahead of me, were cut down by bullets from policemen and other armed personnel on the outside. I was forced to jump back inside, and in doing so, I hurt my chest."

Linton explained that following the earthquake, human-rights personnel visited the prison, providing meals and medication. He said on several occasions, soldiers from the Jamaica Defence Force, who were on assignment in Haiti, spoke with him, took photographs, and promised to assist.

But while Linton had given up all hope of returning home, it was a Haitian warder who reached out to him in March by illegally lending him a mobile phone to make contact with his mother back in Jamaica.

After receiving a call from her son, who she thought had vanished at sea, Carlene Lyon quickly secured the services of a Haitian attorney in a quest to have Linton released.

"When I learned how he was being treated, I cried," said a dejected Lyon. "Jamaicans are friendly and kind people, and whenever Haitians visit our shores they are well taken care of. They are not ill-treated or abused. And to learn that my son was being beaten and forced to eat human flesh like cannibals is barbaric."

However, it was a stranger, Claudette Gillespie-Daley, who rendered assistance to the youngster who, by then, had given up all hope of ever being released.

"I contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by way of a letter," she said. "They were very supportive, and worked tirelessly after they were made aware of the full story ... ," she told The Gleaner.

Wilton Dyer, director of communications in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, confirmed the incident, noting that consistent efforts by the ministry resulted in Linton's release.

Linton was flown to Jamaica on September 28.

"I want to continue my livelihood as a fisherman," he said "But I am in dire need of a boat and an engine. Life might not be the same, but thank God I made it, despite the nightmare experience. I have survived to tell the tale, but the painful memories will haunt me for a long time to come."

Source:Jamaica Gleaner/Power 106
Posted: Monday, October 18, 2010 11:37:56 AM

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iMAN1: It's even fishy to be fishing near the coast of Haiti`& become
Posted: Saturday, November 27, 2010 11:13:46 PM

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25 November 2010 Last updated at 11:32


The teenagers survived mainly on coconuts and rainwater
Three teenage boys have been found alive after being lost in their boat in the Pacific Ocean for 50 days.

The boys, from the Tokelau Islands, a New Zealand-administered territory in the South Pacific, had been given up for dead after an unsuccessful search.

A tuna fishing boat picked them up near Fiji and is taking them to hospital for treatment for severe sunburn.

The boys survived on coconuts, water they trapped on a tarpaulin and a seabird they managed to catch.

'Strong mental spirit'
The boys - Samu Perez and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14 - had gone missing from Atafu atoll in a small aluminium boat after an annual sporting event on 5 October.

They were presumed to have died after unsuccessful searches by the New Zealand air force.

The boys were then spotted north-east of Fiji on Wednesday afternoon by a member of the tuna boat's crew.

"We drew up next to them, and we asked if they needed any help and their reply was a very ecstatic 'yes'," the tuna vessel's first mate, Tai Fredricsen, told the BBC.

"We immediately deployed our rescue craft and got them straight on board and administered basic first aid."

Continue reading the main story

Sea survival stories

2005-6: Three Mexican fishermen drift across the Pacific Ocean for nine months

1992: Two fishermen from Kiribati come ashore in Samoa after 177 days adrift

1942-3: Chinese sailor survives aboard a life-raft for 133 days after his ship is torpedoed in WWII

2001: Two fishermen from Samoa are rescued after four months adrift in an aluminium dinghy

1982: American sailor survives 76 days on a life-raft off the Canary Islands

2009: Two Burmese men survive 26 days floating in an ice box after their ship breaks up off Australia

Mr Fredricsen said the boys had a small supply of coconuts on their boat, but that it had run out after two days.

"They had a period when they were only drinking fresh water, which they were capturing during the night in a tarpaulin," he said.

"They also told me that two weeks prior to us rescuing them, they were able to catch a sea bird which was very lucky for them."

"They did mention that during the last two days they had started drinking salt water, which could have been disastrous for them," he added.

Mr Fredricsen said the boys were in surprisingly good shape considering their ordeal under the blazing tropical sun.

"They've got a lot of gusto, a lot of strong mental spirit," he said, adding that though they were physically in a bad way, they were "mentally [...] very strong".

An aunt of Samu Perez told the BBC that the family had already held a memorial service for him and that everyone had been devastated.

"My mum, she cried every day and every night," Fekei said. "We believed he was still alive anyway, we thought that God was still with them."

She said she thought the boys might have been trying to sail to Australia or the US.

After speaking to Sam on the telephone, she said: "He was asking for forgiveness. I think they did learn a big lesson".

Source:British Broadcasting Corporation
Posted: Saturday, March 10, 2012 11:21:06 AM

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Ministry working to bring home fishermen

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has said it is working closely with Mexican authorities to have the situation involving three Jamaican fishermen speedily resolved.

It is reported that the men's vessel suffered an engine failure and they were rescued by Mexican authorities just over a month a go.

However, one of the men had reportedly died at sea.

It is reported that the Jamaican Embassy in Mexico has informed the ministry that contact has been made with the men and they are being properly treated in detention.

According to the ministry, it's in the process of working with the Jamaican embassy in Mexico to verify the identity of the men this week, in an effort to issue them with emergency travel documents.

The ministry said it will bear the travel costs of the men.

Source: Jamaica-Star

JAMAICA-FISHERMEN-Jamaica seeking repatriation of detained fishermen in Mexican jail

Source: Cananews
Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 11:58:57 PM

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Rescued fishermen to return home Saturday

2012-03-14 08:56:45

Fishermen at sea - Contributed.

The Government says the two Jamaican fishermen who were rescued at sea by Mexican authorities a month ago, are to return to home on Saturday.

A third fisherman, who was aboard the vessel captain Wayne Dias alias ‘Medina’, reportedly died at sea.

The other two men are 26-year-old Joel Smith from Union, St. Elizabeth and 21- year-old Iyun McFarlane from Sav-la-mar, Westmoreland, are scheduled to arrive at the Norman Manley International Airport.

In a release last night, the agriculture ministry said Jamaican authorities tried to secure the return of the men yesterday.

However, the ministry said the necessary travel documents in Mexico could not be prepared and delivered to the fishermen in time.

Last night, the agriculture ministry sought to dismiss reports that the men had been languishing in Mexican detention with no help from Jamaica.

According to the ministry, it was made aware of the situation on February 29 and has been working with the Foreign Affairs ministry since then to secure the return of the men.

Source: Jamaica Gleaner/Power 106
Posted: Monday, April 30, 2012 10:17:08 PM

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so do u think anything will b done about this problem? what do u think can b done and how long do u think b4 the problem will b resolved?
Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2012 1:18:42 AM

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Missing at sea - Residents worried about lost fisherman

Rasbert Turner

An air of gloom now hangs over Old Harbour Bay, St Catherine, after a fisherman has gone missing at sea.

The missing seaman has been identified as Warren Stewart, 40-year-old of Old Harbour Bay, St Catherine.

Reports are that, having heard warning of Tropical Storm Ernesto, he reportedly left from the Pedro Cays alone in a boat that he captained.

His common-law wife Olive Blake told The Star that Stewart left the cays on Sunday about 10 p.m.

Blake said she called Stewart about 7 a.m. on Monday and he had answered his cellphone. She said they lost contact and she has heard nothing since.

Blake said it is the first time her man has gone missing "like this".

hoping for the best

"Whenever he leaves the cays, he would reach home by 3 a.m. So, that is why we are really worried at this time. We are still hoping for the best, though," Blake told The Star.

Stewart is he father of two children who are 17 and seven years old, respectively.

The Old Harbour Bay police said that a report has been made about the missing fisherman.

Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2012 4:21:40 PM

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28 days

A gripping account of three stranded fishermen's struggle for survival on the high seas.

BY PAUL HENRY Crime/Court Desk co-ordinator

Friday, April 20, 2012

FURIOUS waves kept up a sustained assault on the shorelines of the Pedro Cay.

Blanket-like clouds that had earlier dumped their load on these sandy spots of land more than 20 miles south-west of mainland Jamaica threatened to unleash their wrath once more.

[Hide Description] Joel Smith (L) and Anthony McFarlane when they returned to Jamaica in March.
[Restore Description]

Boats still attached to their moorings danced and bucked as 25-knot winds licked up the sea like water being stirred in a pot.

Due to the weather condition, most fishermen and boat owners decided against braving the choppy waters and secured their equipment for the night.

Still, on that moonless Saturday night of January 21, with the wind showing no signs of letting up, a group of fishermen at the cays was busy preparing for an expedition that others could easily have classified as suicidal.

Captain Wayne Dias was not lost to the fact that he was taking a risk by going out. After all Dias, also known as Medina, boasted 18 years of fishing experience.

He was aware of the talks swirling around him that the pending rain was a warning to abort the night's fishing expedition. But that night, Dias was unconcerned about the superstitions of others. He had bills to pay and three teenage children to care for.

Dias would often be heard speaking of his children and whenever he made a catch he would call them to pick up their share of fish and money in Rocky Point, Clarendon, not far from their home on the Monymusk Sugar factory.

As 2011 drew to a close Dias increasingly complained to friends about his finances and how hard it was to make a living fishing in the waters of the cays.

Dias, who was a day from his 38th birthday, was making preparations to increase his earnings. He had high hopes of joining a large fishing vessel that would put out from Kingston and spend two weeks at sea. Dias had calculated that he could make enough money from this venture to allow him to reopen his cook shop or start up a restaurant when he retired from fishing in another two years.

But until then, this would have to do. He simply couldn't afford to pass up this fishing expedition and the possibility of a large catch.

TWENTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD Joel Smith watched as the other fishermen secured their equipment. Smith, a diminutive fellow who sports braided hair and a moustache, felt the strong winds against his small frame. He saw its effects upon the water and was having serious doubts about going fishing that night.

Dias, a jovial man but with a bullish character when it came to fishing, usually commanded the respect and confidence of his fellow fishermen, but tonight, Smith did not share his captain's enthusiasm.

As far as Smith was concerned, the weather was meant as a warning for them to stay off the sea and he didn't intend to keep quiet about it.

“Mi nuh love the weather. Mi naah go no sea. Get somebody else carry,” Smith said.

His brother-in-law Norman Watson, himself a fisherman, thought he'd offer some advice. “If you nuh waa go, don't force yourself.”

Smith continued fussing about the bad weather and not wanting to go.

“If you nuh waa go, me alone will go,” Dias eventually said as he continued preparation for the fishing expedition.

Smith had been going to sea with Dias for the better part of his 12 years fishing and didn't want to disappoint him. Because mi and him a work from long time mi ago jus go wid him, Smith reasoned within himself.

Moreover, he too needed the money. Smith thought of his two-year-old child and the week-old monetary promise to his parents he wanted to fulfil.

“Alright,” Smith said to Dias, whom he had gone fishing with earlier that day. “Me a go sea wid you.”

The men's course that night would take them from the shack-cluttered cays, populated by fishermen and others who have made it home, to a fishing area called Banners about 80 miles out to sea. There they would fish for three days.

IT was about eight o'clock when Dias and Smith left the cays in a red, 15-foot boat called the Dunnaman 2.

They were accompanied by a much larger boat unto which their catch would be offloaded. Aboard that boat was diver Anthony McFarlane, a 21-year-old third-generation fisherman from the parish of Westmoreland. McFarlane wasn't supposed to be on the fishing trip with Dias and Smith but had begged to come on after the crew of his fishing boat decided not to brave the bad weather condition. With a one-year-old child to support and another on the way, McFarlane wouldn't allow nature to dictate his earnings.

The winds had still not subsided. Smith continued to feel uneasy about the night's excursion. And it was obvious to those around him.

Before leaving Pedro Cay, he had read a passage from his pocket-sized New Testament Bible which he kept on him at all times.

“Mi will use a lime and cut off the saltness,” another fisherman had teased Smith because of his apprehension.

“Don't worry you head, man. Mi have the Bible. Mi wi drop a Psalm,” Smith had responded.

But Smith's reading had been cut short by a sudden downpour that dumped water on his Bible.

After a few hours struggling through choppy seas and high wind the men arrived at Banners where they had a meal and waited.

Following the downpour, McFarlane boarded the smaller boat with Dias and Smith. Both men had reasoned that the extra hands would increase the chances of a larger catch. McFarlane was thankful for the opportunity.

Along with their fishing gear, the men had packed three bulla cakes and a jug of water. They figured they could easily sail back to the large boat to replenish their food and water supply if needs be.

During his dive, McFarlane caught a huge hogfish. Immediately, Dias took command of the catch. That fish wouldn't see the market.

“Mi ago want this fi cook fi dinner Sunday on the boat," he said excited about his upcoming birthday. Dias, ever the people-person, was not going to let the day go unnoticed.

“How you mean, man; a you earth strong. A our fish that,” one of the men agreed.

The men had made a good catch and were heading back to the large boat to unload. On the way back, Dias kept following a light he believed to be that of their other boat, but unwittingly he was only piloting them further out to sea.

SOMETIME later, the Dunnaman 2 bobbed and turned as it sat anchored in the middle of nowhere. The men cannot believe what is happening to them. How could this have happened? Smith and McFarlane were boiling with anger. Dias, on the other hand, was trying to figure out how he could have miscalculated so badly.

Both Smith and McFarlane had, for some time, been trying to get Dias to stop. “A the wrong light that,” they had protested. But Dias blew them off and had continued for some distance before finally dropping anchor for the night.

Now, as the small boat tossed about on the rough seas, the men waited for daylight when they would be able to make a better assessment of the way back.

There was another serious cause for concern but Dias kept it to himself.

Equally puzzled over the men's whereabouts were the crew of the waiting vessel.

Sunday, January 22.

Dias, Smith and McFarlane rose from their uneasy sleep at the crack of dawn and surveyed their surroundings. Water everywhere.

Smith scrambled upon the covering of the boat's bow, looking like the good-luck figurehead on a medieval ship. He craned his neck every which way looking about until he saw what appeared to be waves breaking on a familiar patch of sand.

“Banners must be back up that side,” he declared, pointing.

He was positive it was. Dias fired up the engine. The Dunnaman 2 roared to life and they headed off in the direction that Smith pointed.

After a night stranded at sea the men were only too anxious to head home.

They were making good progress. The boat heaved like a horse as it rode the waves and came crashing down with a thud, spraying the men with salt water. There was still a great distance ahead of them.

“How much gas lef’?” Smith wanted to know.

Dias had taken eight gallons of reserve, six gallons of which was expended the previous night chasing the light Dias thought belonged to the other boat they came out with.

Dias had kept the fuel problem to himself not wanting to cause panic among the men. But he also knew that in a while the boat's engine would choke and die from a lack of fuel.

“Two gallon,” Dias finally answered.

Not long from then the boat's engine died as expected and the Dunnaman 2 laid anchored over a hundred miles from home. The boat had drifted some distance from where they had run out of fuel before the anchor finally held.

Smith was as angry as an agitated rattlesnake. So too was McFarlane. Tempers flared and the situation threatened to turn explosive.

“You see how long mi a tell you fi stop. Look from when me a tell you fi anchor the boat ina the night,” Smith ripped into Dias.

Dias made a half-hearted attempt at defending himself but Smith cut him off.

“Stop the quarrelling man because right now the whole a we ago dead enuh. The difficulty we inna, the whole a we ago dead if we nuh get help. You see from how long mi a tell you fi anchor the boat because we no know weh we a go and you a drive out the whole a di gas.”

THE sun beat down hard on the men's heads as they sat waiting for help to arrive. Waves made sloshing sounds, crashing against the fibreglass hull of the boat.

All-out panic hadn't set in yet. By the men's estimation, they were still in Jamaican waters and were hopeful of being rescued by the JDF Coast Guard even if they drifted for another two days. The men took comfort in these thoughts as they sat and waited helplessly, mulling over the situation.

After waiting for what appeared to be an eternity, the men saw reason to breathe a sigh of relief. A large fishing boat that seemed familiar had come into view.

“Help! Help!” The men shouted and frantically waved a makeshift signal flag made of a stick and a shirt.

Finally the boat drew close and anchored while its occupants fished.

More frantic waving. More shouts of 'help'.

“It look like dem see we but dem nuh ready fi forward yet. Dem a cool out till dem ready fi come pick wi up,” offered an optimistic Smith.

The three exhausted men fell asleep watching the men from the other boat fish. They woke up later that afternoon only to see the boat miles away and leaving.

"Help! Help!" But their panicked shouts were in vain.

As evening drew closer, the men prepared themselves for a second night at sea.

Their catch from the previous night had started giving off an odour.

Back on Pedro Cays, news began spreading that the men were lost at sea or dead. Friends would later report that the coast guard had been called in but did not come the same day.

THE Smith family had been preparing for bed at their modest home that Sunday night in Union, St Elizabeth.

Homemaker Sandra Smith was already in bed, but not asleep. Her husband Roy, who works on a nearby farm, was preparing to join her but stopped to answer the family cell phone.

His heart sank as he processed the news that was being delivered. “Joel gone sea from Saturday and I don’t know if a lost dem lost,” his adult daughter Skeeta was saying on the other end of the line.

“How comes dem gone a sea and you nuh know weh dem deh? A tell you a tell me say Joel drown a sea and dead?” Smith exclaimed.

Sandra shot up from the bed. Her heart raced. Hitting her with a tonne of brick wouldn't hurt this much.

She had fearfully anticipated this call ever since her son, to her displeasure, started fishing in 2000.

The family hadn't seen Joel in three years as he spent his time between Rocky Point and Pedro Cays fishing. But he would call often. Just the week before he went missing, Joel had called home to say he was going to sea.

“Okay. No problem but be careful because is a lot of people go out there and some of them died. Don’t let that happen to you and make sure the boat is in good condition,” Joel’s mother had told him.

He assured her he would be fine.

Sandra was about to scream.

“No sah no bother cry because mi no feel say nothing happen to Joel.” Her husband comforted her while juggling the conversation with his daughter, who was saying that nobody knew for certain if the men were dead or just missing.

Sandra's mind was racing just as fast as her heart was pounding. A thousand thoughts of what could have gone wrong clouded her mind. Could it be engine problem? Did they run out of gas?

Seventeen-year-old Janice Dias had that feeling. She could not tell exactly what it was. But it was that feeling. That feeling that gnawed at you, making you both uneasy and edgy at the same time, making you emotional, anxious.

Janice had tried calling her father on Sunday morning but did not get through.

When her mother Sherene Phillips told her later that day about her father's disappearance at sea, a tearful Janice exclaimed, “That's why me feel so. Mi call him this morning and couldn't get through.”

The news also helped Phillips make sense of a dream she had on the Saturday night the men went fishing. In this dream, Dias, from whom she had separated in the late 1990s, was saying something to her. He attempted to kiss her but she drew away.

Dias' mother Authrin Blackwood-Thompson was informed of her son's disappearance on Tuesday, January 24. Blackwood-Thompson, who has a history of high blood pressure, had to battle to remain calm.

Andrew McFarlane was fishing in the waters off the coast of Westmoreland on Wednesday, the 25th, when he got the news that shook him to the core. After all, it was he who had turned his son on to fishing some five years ago.

The men’s loved ones feared the worst but, at the same time, hoped for the best.

THE stranded fishermen woke up on Monday, January 23, to find themselves far away from the spot where they had anchored. The rough sea had overnight tossed the boat around, loosening its anchor's grip on the sea floor.

Breakfast that morning was a half of bulla cake that was split evenly among the men. They were now left with two and a half piece of the three bulla cakes they packed for the journey out on Saturday night.

By now Saturday's catch had gone bad and had to be dumped.

As evening fell no rescue came and the men were worried because their food supply could not sustain them if they drifted for an extended period.

Their hope was faltering but they rested in the confidence that the coast guard would reach them during the coast guard's regular Tuesday patrols in the vicinity.

Tuesday evening came but there was no sign of the coast guard. The men continued drifting further out to sea. Food supply: Two bulla cakes.

Wednesday morning. No coast guard. The only craft the men saw was an aeroplane which they tried signalling. One and a half bulla cake left. Water supply: Drastically low.

Thursday. No help. The aeroplane wasn't a surveillance plane from the coast guard as the men had hoped. One bulla cake left.

Friday. The men are edgy and running scared. They have taken to fervent praying. Half of a bulla cake left.

Saturday marked a week at sea and no change in their situation. They kept drifting, further than they even knew. Their efforts to catch fish had been fruitless. They ate the last half of the bulla cake. Fresh water supply: Nil.

“Hard time ago start. Things ago get hard now,” Dias stated what they were all thinking.

“Father God, a wonder what we ago eat now,” said one of the men. At that moment, the men asked for God to sustain them.

“You know say a so it go. We jus' have to get some help,” Dias said. There was no sugar coating their predicament.

Day after day the men kept drifting. No food. No water. Praying. Hoping. Wondering when help would come. Just the open sea. No land in sight.

Out there, night seemed to follow day at the drop of a hat or vice versa. The sun seemed hotter. The men dealt with this by stripping down to their underwear and wetting themselves throughout the day. At nights, they slept under sheets of sponge to keep warm.

They had the terrifying wrath of an angry sea to cope with.

But there were moments of soothing calm as well. The sun dancing off the surface of water when it was still gave it a certain glittering sheen, a glass-like appearance, making it look like something that you would walk upon.

Though their stomachs ached from hunger and their throats were parched, the men still stopped to appreciate this wonder of nature that was enough to make you forget your troubles, even for a moment.

Conversations were mainly about where the men think they may end up and how soon they would reach there.

The intervals, however, would be long periods of quiet. Only the splashing of the sea. Not a peep from the three. Each in their own little corner of the boat, lost in thoughts of their families – mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, girlfriends, children – and how they must be handling the news of their disappearance.

And Smith. Smith could not stop thinking that he should have followed the advice of his brother-in-law Norman Watson and not get on the boat that Saturday night. If me did know, he thought to himself.

After a while, the men lost all track of time. Drifting, Drifting. Drifting. Miles upon miles. No help coming. Just them and their will to survive.

IN the days that followed the depletion of what little food and water they had, Smith took to drinking the sea water. He had remembered a fisherman saying once that if you are stranded you should drink sea water so that you would have power over the sea.

But after a few days he was getting sick from doing so. He began to spit up blood, and had to stop.

Apart from this superstition, Smith had been drinking the sea water as a means of quenching his thirst. But now he needed a replacement.

Then one day, about 15 days into the drift, it came back to Smith: A story told by one of two survivors of an ill-fated fishing expedition of five men. Smith remembered how the fisherman had said that he had to drink his urine to survive and held passing his faeces.

Smith had resolved to do whatever it would take to increase his chances of survival on the open sea.

So early one morning, without hesitating, Smith downed two cups of his own urine. It wasn't water but it would do. He also decided to share this information with Dias and McFarlane so they too could increase their chances of survival.

“Yow, Medina?” Smith began to say, referring to Dias. “You know what mi remember? Bob dem did lost enuh and dem say dem haffi make up dem mind fi drink dem urine.”

Dias abhorred the idea. If Bob had survived by drinking his urine, that was his thing and if Smith wanted to drink his, then by all means. But he wasn’t about to join them. “Me caa manage that. Me haffi waste and mi caa drink mi urine.”

While Smith and Dias were conversing, McFarlane urinated in a container and tasted it. He quickly dumped the remainder. It was just too hard to swallow.

Later that morning, Smith downed another two cups of urine. When he was on his second cup, Dias and McFarlane turned around to see him gulping down.

“How it taste?” McFarlane wanted to know.

Smith was quick to encourage him. “Every man urine taste different. You have fi taste yours. Mi caa tell you how it taste.”

With that, McFarlane made another attempt at consuming his urine but again he could not follow through after the first sip.

The next day though, the thirst was too great to bear and McFarlane went all the way. Both men also held their faeces. But Dias did not budge from his position.

Later when Smith came down with severe stomach ache, Dias was quick to point out that it was because he had been holding his faeces and that he needed to defecate.

THE men's first meal after their supply ran out, countless days ago, was a sea bird that landed in the boat.

Smith and McFarlane drank the bird's blood and offered some to Dias. Dias had refused to drink his own urine so he sure as hell wouldn't be drinking bird's blood.

“Mi good, man,” Dias declined.

The men roasted the bird using scraps of sponge and pieces of rope for fuel.

Their next meal, consisting of two fish wouldn't be until many days later.

The extended period at sea without food and water was beginning to wear on the men's bodies. Their clothes hung on their emaciated frames like scarecrows in a field. They were mere flesh and bones. Their eyes had sunk back in their heads, like a turtle withdrawn into its shell.

The daily task of bailing water from the boat was becoming impossible.

The ordeal had also begun to take an effect on their minds, putting them on the brink of insanity. At times, the mood in the boat would swing like a pendulum from that of perseverance to wanting to just die.

Of particular distress to the men was that numerous ships had passed them by without rendering assistance no matter how much they signalled.

One day Smith finally snapped. “If mi did know. If me did jus' hear what Norman say. You see me come a sea and watch deh. If me did know, man.”

Dias wasn't one to dwell on mistakes of the past. Plus, if they were to survive, they needed to stay focused.

“Stop talk 'bout that man. You done inna di boat already. 'If you did know' can’t help you,” was his response to Smith's rant.

From then on the words ‘If mi did know’ became a constant refrain of Smith’s.

At one point Dias and Smith had to keep a close watch on McFarlane for an entire night and threatened to tie him up.

McFarlane had become weary of the everlasting drifting and wanted to swim out in search of land. He had reasoned that his life was already at an end and that it did not matter now if he died.

Despite the men's encouraging words, McFarlane persisted, “You naa know when me a leave the boat.”

“None a we naa dead,” Smith told him. And for the rest of that evening Dias and Smith kept watch until McFarlane fell asleep.

FEBRUARY came and the men's loved ones still had no news of what may have become of them.

Their boat hadn't been recovered. No bodies washed up anywhere. No reported sighting of them at sea. Nothing.

Daily prayers for the men's safe return were still being offered up.

But at times, the faith of the families wavered from hopefulness and hopelessness.

And who could blame them? After all, the men have been missing for close to a month. Additionally, few fishermen have suffered a similar fate and live to talk about it.

Appetites were lost. The men's worried loved ones were constantly stressed over them.

Andrew McFarlane was sick with grief because of his son's disappearance and became disoriented while fishing.

At the Smiths' home in St Elizabeth, Joel's sister Shanike lay across her bed and wailed uncontrollably. "Mi want back mi bredda! Mi want back mi bredda!"

Her mother Sandra Smith sought to comfort her. "Don't cry, because you brother not dead."

Secretly though, Sandra herself harboured doubts that her son may still be alive.

NOTWITHSTANDING their ordeal, the men had managed to sleep. But Smith hadn't slept well in the past few days. As soon as he dozed off he would jump up with the wide-eyed gaze of a startled child.

His anxiety had been caused by a near-death experience in which the Dunnaman 2 came within inches of being crushed by a giant cargo ship.

The men had been waving down the ship from some distance off. They grew excited as the ship came close. They were finally going to get help. But unknown to them the ship wasn't coming to help. The boat had merely drifted into the ship's lane, putting the two on a collision course.

The men sat wide-eyed and terrified when the ship showed no signs of slowing. There were no paddles to get out of harm's way. And even if there were, they were much too weak to help themselves.

For a few heart-stopping moments, the men watched as this gigantic ship slid by, just a few feet away. Caught up in the ship's wake, the Dunnaman 2 thrashed about violently tossing the men around.

Horrified, they sat thinking of how close they had come to death.

Dias finally broke the silence. “You see how close the ship passed? If a did night we dead enuh.”

“A nuh lie,” Smith agreed. His heart raced. “Dem man deh nuh see we. You nuh see where the ship sail pass and how long we a wave an' dem nuh stop.”

“A nuh lie. If dem did see we, dem wuda mus help we...,” chimed in McFarlane.

From then on, the three took turns sleeping.

Days passed. Still no land in sight. Still no help. Drifting. Drifting. Drifting. Just them and the sea. Hungry. Dehydrated. Stressed. Hopeless.

And that familiar refrain, ‘If mi did know.’

The men had lost count of the number of days they had gone without eating. Their last meal was the two fish they had caught days after catching the sea bird.

They grew weaker by the day, their movement becoming more laborious. Dias' condition appeared more severe than that of Smith and McFarlane's.

He now seldom moved from his spot beneath the fibreglass covering of the boat's bow.

One morning Smith and McFarlane woke to find Dias lying in his own faeces. Dias, however, insisted he was okay.

“You sure?” Smith pressed.

“Mi alright,” Dias reassured before cleaning up himself. The men knew something was seriously wrong with their captain.

Smith and McFarlane woke early the next morning, surveyed their surroundings. Still no land in sight.

Smith shuffled over to Dias. “Teacher, wake up. Day light.” But Dias did not budge.

For the first time since they started drifting many days ago, the reality of the men's own mortality had been brought home to them in a forceful way. Dias was dead.

With no end to their drifting in sight, Smith and McFarlane found themselves pondering, not if they too would die, but who would be next.

Still, the men tried rallying themselves.

“Me nuh waa be the next one enuh,” Smith said.

“Mi naah dead enuh. Me naah dead. Mi ago reach somewhere,” McFarlane resolved.

“Right now, we haffi pray," Smith suggested.

Smith started reading his Bible with greater zeal.

Three days after his death, Dias' body had to be dumped overboard. The men had wanted to keep the body for a proper burial, in the event that help came. But it had begun to decompose.

For the most part since they got lost, the men had been blessed with modest weather.

But for a three-day period, following Dias' death, they would encounter a furious downpour and strong winds that created waves as high as a three story building, threatening to capsize their small boat.

Unrelenting waves tossed about the boat like a matchbox. "Hold it, Daddy!" The men shouted to the heavens and prayed holding on for dear life as the boat dipped this way and that and took on massive amounts of water.

The men were grateful to have survived that ordeal.

And as if being rewarded, the men managed to catch a sizable fish a few days later.

Before making the catch, one of the men prayed: “Father weh you a do fi we? You know how much days we nuh eat now and we hungry."

A few evenings later, McFarlane caught another bird. In that bird's mouth were two fish that they cooked that evening.

The men also made good use of the blood from the bird. Up to that time, they were still drinking their urine which by now had a water-like taste.

IT was about three nights after Smith and McFarlane's last meal that it popped up. A light on the horizon.

Daylight came but there was no land in sight. The men were now doubtful that they had seen city lights the previous night. But that evening the light again reappeared but a bit larger.

The men drifted toward the light for days. The light appeared to grow with each night that passed.

“A land that enuh,” McFarlane said excitedly one night.

“So nuh mus’ land,” Smith agreed robustly.

"If a nuh land that it mus’ be a cay," McFarlane said.

Cruise ships were now passing by with regularity but the men' shouts for 'help' were in vain.

Overjoyed about the prospect of finally reaching land Smith and McFarlane one night stayed up until daylight, watching the light illuminating the skies above it.

One day McFarlane grew frustrated as he thought the boat was not drifting fast enough toward land. He suggested that the two abandon the craft and make a swim for land.

"Right now we naa too swim off yet cause we no deh near to land," Smith tried talking McFarlane out of that idea. "A far out we deh same way. A just true the light on the sea and it shiny why it look like it near.”

“You caa manage?” McFarlane asked.

“No,” Smith sighed.

Given the men's frail condition none of them would have survived such a swim. Instead, they used bucket covers to paddle the boat toward the direction where they had been seeing the light. But they were too weak to continue.

THIS morning, Saturday, February 18, the men were in a celebratory mood. Land was now in sight.

After how many days of drifting, the hardship would be finally over. The men were relieved beyond words.

“You still naah swim off?” McFarlane asked again.

“No. We caa reach so far an’ put we self ina danger. See one man gone already. It no mek sense we see land so near and go kill we self.”

“Alright,” McFarlane relented.

The men fell asleep from exhaustion, their boat bobbing in the waters off the coast of some foreign land, Spanish-speaking Mexico to be exact, more than 1500 miles away from home.

By now the Mexican coast guard was closing in on the men's boat. Smith and McFarlane were still asleep when the coast guard arrived.

The officers attached a line to the Dunnaman 2 in preparation to have it towed to land.

A tug of the boat. A jerk. The two were jolted from their fatigue-induced slumber, surrounded by uniformed men speaking "a strange language".

The dazed men wondered where they were. Mexico, they would learn hours later after waking up at a hospital in Mexico City. They had passed out after being questioned by the coast guard on land.

Both men were later removed to an immigration detention centre.

SUNDAY and another day of worry, stress, sorrows.

But for the Smiths family this was until...

“Hello,” Sandra snapped up the buzzing phone.


“Who this; Joel? A Joel?” she enquired.


“Oh Lord, have mercy!” Sandra wanted to cry, hearing her son on the line, finally knowing that he was alive.

Authrin Blackwood-Thompson, Dias' mother, heard the grim news about her son's demise in early March and had to be treated for a rise in her blood pressure.

My God, I wonder if it’s my one, Blackwood-Thompson had thought to herself when she had first heard that one of the men had died.

Sherene Phillips was at church rejoicing because she was told that Dias, the father of her children, was alive. That was until the sad news came. A dream she had had in which Dias told her he didn't make it did nothing to lessen the impact.

A cousin delivered the good news to McFarlane's dad in early March.

Due to immigration wranglings, the men would not return home until March 17.

IT has been a month and some days since Smith and McFarlane's return. The sea is their only source of income but they are too traumatised to venture out. Both men are frustrated.

The closest Smith has been to sea is the beach at Rocky Point.

Along with his mental scars, he seems to be suffering from a condition that causes his body to swell up. He believes it's due to his ordeal at sea. He's, however, not sure as neither he nor McFarlane was medically examined after their return to Jamaica.

Still, Smith's mind is mostly with his dead captain. Dias, he believes, would have been alive today had it not been for his stubbornness.

Posted: Monday, March 10, 2014 1:43:28 AM

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Elderly fisherman wrestles with crocodile, stabs reptile to escape

Published: Thursday February 20, 2014 | 1:08 pm

Williams... It was my lucky day - Deon Green/Photographer

Deon Green, Gleaner Writer

YALLAHS, St Thomas:

An elderly fisherman is now nursing wounds he received in a crocodile attack in Yallahs, St Thomas yesterday.

It is reported that about 10 a.m, 64-year-old Roy Williams had just finished fishing at the mouth of the Yallahs River when he went to wash his hands.

Williams says as he approached the river, a crocodile grabbed his right hand and pulled him under the water.

The elderly man says he struggled with the reptile before it resurfaced with him.

Williams says it was at that time he pulled a knife from a bag on his back and stabbed the croc in its eye.

The reptile immediately released Williams.

Williams was taken to private medical facility for treatment and returned with a heavily bandaged hand.

"Mi don't know how mi escape," Williams said.

"It was my lucky day."

He also pointed to injuries on his ankle received in the attack.

Source: Jamaica Gleaner/Power 106
Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 8:54:22 PM

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Posts: 232
Points: 544
Stolen Police Boat Found In Honduras Yet To Be Returned To Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | March 23, 2016 | 7:22 PM

The stolen Jamaica Constabulary Force boat that was found in Honduras some three weeks ago is yet to be returned to the island.

The police boat was found without its engines weeks after it was stolen from a dock in Negril, Westmoreland.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake told The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre that the Easter Holidays have delayed plans to return the vessel but the police are still in dialogue to have the boat back as soon as possible.

Blake also said the engines were the only parts that were removed from the boat.

Deputy commissioner of police Clifford Blake
The Deputy Commissioner says the Jamaican police are in contact with Honduran investigators as they are still trying to find out who stole the boat

The vessel was one of 10 boats that the US government gave to Jamaica's marine police last October to boost their crime fighting efforts at sea and track down those plying the illicit guns for drugs trade between Jamaica and Haiti.

Source:Jamaica Gleaner/Power 106
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