'I cried a million times' - Rescued fisherman recounts horrifying days lost at sea
Anthony 'Okey' Williams said he cried "one million times" as the turbulent weather hoisted his boat into the air several times, thirst parched his throat, and his stomach screamed for food.
By day five of the seven days being lost at sea, the 57-year-old fisherman, who was rescued on Monday by a lobster boat owned by Rainforest Seafoods, said his feet had started to give way and all hope of being found had dissipated.
"God was in the boat with me. He steered it. He sat in front of me. He would have to come and tell me that He was not there," Williams, who was returned to shore on Tuesday night by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard team, told The Gleaner as he rehashed the hell that he went through during the seven days that he was adrift at sea.
"Only God could have kept me alive out there."
The father of seven said that on Monday, August 6, Jamaica's 56th Independence Day, he transported some divers from Middle Cays to Ballards Ring, along with other boatmen. On his way back, his engine went down and he experienced difficulty.
His boat drifted 100 miles away from Pedro Bluff, near to Honduras.
Having only left home for a short trip, Williams had neither water nor food. By day three, he said he started to eat raw fish and he was thirsty and weak.
"Every look mi look, a pure tree in a di sea and crowing of rooster," he said.
I SAW 'DUTCHMEN'
At nights, he said that he saw and heard 'Dutchmen' (those who have died at sea).
"A whole heap a dem, but I said one thing to myself: 'Dem cyan lift me out of my boat'," Williams stated.
On Sunday night, he said that he dreamt that he was driving a big trailer, and by daybreak, he said that God sent something for him.
Williams said he had torn up his clothing and used the scraps to make a flag, which he could hoist in the sky by day six because by then, if he was not found, he had made his peace with God.
In fact, the fisherman said that by then, he had hung his head down wishing to die, having given his life to Jesus.
"When I saw the Rainforest boat, I felt I was being fooled by another Dutchman, so I lit the cloth and hoisted it in the air so that the persons in it could see me although I could hardly stand up, because my knees were so weak," he stated.
PRACTISE EXTREME CAUTION
On Wednesday when The Gleaner spoke with Williams, he had been thoroughly checked and released from the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH).
"I have a lot of respect for Rainforest Seafoods. I pray for that company. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here today," he shared with gratitude.
He noted that when he was handed over to the coast guard, they gave him rehydration fluid, which re-energised him.
"By the time I was seen by the staff at the KPH, I was OK," he said.
Major Basil Jarrett, civil military cooperation officer at the JDF, said Williams was very fortunate to be alive after so many days at sea.
Jarrett said the JDF Coast Guard maintains a heavy presence in Jamaica's territorial waters at all times, but nonetheless, he urged fishermen and other sea goers to practise extreme caution when going to sea.
This means taking the appropriate navigational tools, food and water, and other essential supplies.