February 8, 2023

A 47-year-old man was working on his boat in St. Maarten in December when the weather suddenly churned and he drifted out to sea. He soon became lost and now, weeks later has been found off the coast of Colombia – with only ketchup and seasonings helping to keep him nourished. 

The Colombian Navy announced Wednesday that they rescued the man, identified as Elvis Francois of Dominica, about 120 nautical miles away from Puerto Bolívar in the Caribbean Sea. They responded to the stranded man after learning that there was an adrift sailboat with the word “HELP” spelled out on the boat’s hull. 

The navy said that Francois informed them he had been near Saint Maarten in the Antilles islands making repairs on his boat when weather conditions worsened and he was suddenly dragged out to sea. Authorities said that Francois’ navigation skills were not keen, making him lost and disoriented. 

“I tried to [go] back to port, but I lost track because it took me a while to mount the sail and fix the sail,” Francois said in a video released by the Navy. “…I call my friends, my coworkers. They tried to contact me, but they lost service. There was nothing else I could do than sit down and wait.” 

That’s when he decided to write out a call for help on the back of the boat.

“I had no food, just a bottle of ketchup that was on the boat, garlic powder and Maggi [soup],” he said. “So, I mixed it up with some water so I had this to survive for 24 days in the sea.” 

Upon rescue, Francois was taken to the Port of Cartagena to receive medical care and begin procedures to return to Dominica, the navy said. Colombian Army Commander Captain Carlos Urano Montes said that he “was found to be in good health.”


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