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Missing Barbadian fisherman washes ashore in SVG after six days at sea

Missing Barbadian fisherman washes ashore in SVG after six days at sea

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Stranded alone at sea, no land in sight, no food or fresh water, no idea whether you will make it out alive or not. It may sound like one of this summer’s blockbuster movies, but for one Barbadian fisherman it was very much a reality.

In the 36 years that he has been operating as a fisherman, 49-year-old Noel Armstrong {{more}}never gave much thought to being adrift at sea – that is, until May 21, when it happened to him.

Speaking with SEARCHLIGHT, the Black Rock, St Michael resident said that he went day fishing at approximately 6 a.m. that day, as he usually does. Around 1:30 p.m., he noticed that the wind started picking up and the tide was becoming stronger. By the time he decided to head back into shore, it was impossible for him to row against the rough tide and he began to drift further out to sea.

“That was the beginning of the ordeal,” he explained.

Armstrong said that throughout his ordeal, he saw no other vessels in the vicinity – not even in the horizon.

“All I saw was bare water and darkness!”

Sounding a bit emotional, he recalled: “The first two nights, I was really depressed ‘cause I told myself, out in the ocean there by myself, that any big ship pass could clap me down and they’d never find me.”

Over the next few days, Armstrong had nothing “proper” to eat, and didn’t have access to fresh water.

“I had to gather moss to eat, drink my own urine,” he recounted.

But despite not knowing what was to be his outcome, Armstrong said that he put his trust in God, and prayed that he would make it back to his family alive.

On May 26, he washed ashore on Savan Island (an uninhabited islet just off the coast of Mustique), where he encountered some local fishermen, who took him to Mustique, where he received medical attention.

Luckily for him, he suffered nothing more than dehydration and slight sunburn, but the memory of the ordeal will undoubtedly stay with him forever.

The local Coastguard collected him from Mustique – where he spent two days – and transported him to the mainland, where he spent an additional four days in the police quarters at the Central Police Station in Kingstown.

As soon as he was able to, he called home to Barbados to let his family and friends know that he was safe and alive.

Armstrong explained that his government provided him with a LIAT ticket to get back to Barbados, and even joked that although his flight was characteristically delayed, he didn’t mind as he was grateful to be alive, and on his way back to his loved ones.

Currently taking three weeks’ rest before resuming his fishing business, Armstrong said that this had been his first visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines, and admitted that he would love to visit again, but under normal circumstances next time.

“I was at the airport with some girls, and they wanted me to come back for Carnival, but I tell them I really can’t make that yet!” he chuckled. “I will come down after Crop Over here.”

In the meantime, Armstrong is waiting for his boat ‘Sea Cat’ to be sent back to him in Barbados.

“I ain’t hear nothing ‘bout it yet!”

He is also hoping to get some government assistance, so that he can purchase an engine for his fishing boat, as he does not want a repeat of his recent ordeal.

In all, he believes that it is his faith in God that got him through this six-day nightmare.

“I did some praying to God, and the Lord heard my prayer!”

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