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Engine failure and lack of radios kept four Chiquilá fishermen at sea six days

Chiquilá, Q.R. — Four recently rescued lobster fishermen from Chiquilá say they never lost hope they would be found after six days at sea. The group headed out to sea 8:00 a.m. February 1 and were scheduled to return February 3, however, engine trouble left them stranded.

According to boat captain Carlos Rafael Dzib Martínez, it was an experience he would not wish upon his worst enemy. “We never lost hope,” he said. “It was a terrifying experience that I would not wish on even my worst enemy.”

Boat Andrea and her crew of four found themselves stranded off the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula after their engine failed while lobster fishing. He said it was difficult drifting without having the possibility to ask for help and with only 15 liters of water and some cookies that they rationed as far as they could.

The four locals left the Port of Chiquilá bound for Cape Catoche February 1 (Thursday) and meant to return that Saturday. Due to a failed engine and lack of radio equipment, they spent six days drifting and were finally located the evening of February 7.

They were found by a local fishing vessel and towed to port. Photo: Feb. 7, 2024.

He said they were also without radio equipment and unable to request help. The water and food they brought was rationed as long as they could.

He said when the cold front arrived, their boat was carried past the island of Cozumel one morning around 3:00 a.m. where they sat watching a cruise ship and island lights, however, no one saw them.

The strong winds caused two of the crew to fall into the sea and lapping waves to fill the boat, but the remaining two were able to bail water and rescue the men from the sea. They quickly ran out of food and water.

Martínez says they were so far out to sea they no longer saw birds but did spot several large cargo vessels while drifting. No one saw them or heard their yells for help.

Juan Quime Mendez, one of the four men, said they were finally found by area fishermen on a boat named Kiarita III approximately 46 miles from Isla Contoy. The crew from Kiarita towed them to the Port of Chiquilá.

Two of the four fishermen spent a night in hospital for dehydration. Photo: Feb. 7, 2024.

All four fishermen were treated by medical personnel upon arrival at the Port. Two of them were transferred for an overnight stay in Kantunilkin hospital due to severe dehydration.