Less than three weeks after Barbadian fishermen Kirton Watson and Michael Hawkesworth returned home after a month-long ordeal at sea, the two are to set sail again this week.
Watson, the captain of the vessel, Pearlita, today said if everything goes according to plan they would be heading for the high seas, less than a month after they were rescued by the Venezuelan coast guard.
“Once I get some ice we will be going fishing again this week,” Watson told Barbados TODAY, adding that “since [they returned home on April 27] we haven’t been back on the water”.
The two left here on a fishing expedition on March 26 and soon ran into trouble. Unable to establish contact with anyone, they were feared lost by relatives and by fisherfolk here.
However, a month after they left home it emerged that their vessel had run aground in Venezuela on April 18 and they had been rescued by the coast guard in the South American country.
“Going out to fish I felt good because that is my trade. I wasn’t really scared because I like the water. I am a fisherman, this is what I do for a living. All I was worried about was the boat sinking. I told myself once the boat didn’t sink I can get back home, but if it sink I’m gone,” the 61-year-old Watson explained.
It was a weary but relieved Watson and Hawkesworth who arrived here on the evening of April 27 on a Caribbean Airlines flight, having left Venezuela the previous day.
With the exception of a few words from Hawkesworth, the two said nothing about the ordeal back then.
Today, Watson spoke publicly about the experience for the first time since stepping foot on home soil.
The St George fisherman said he had been through similar experiences several times in the past, but “this is the longest time it happen to me. This is the worst one since I was fishing”.
He told Barbados TODAY everything seemed normal when they left here, and things were going quite well.
“We caught fish and then all of a sudden we had all sorts of problems with our boat; the boat just won’t start. At one point we started to go adrift. The boat started to lean on a side, then we began to take out our essentials,” Watson said.
“I lost my shoes, bag, radio and clothes and $1,500. It could have got back the stuff but the sea water mashed them up,” he added.
Watson said every attempt to attract attention failed, and they began to wonder whether anyone would heed their distress call.
However, relief would come in the form of the coast guard, whose officials took good care of them while arrangements were being made to fly them home.
“I put lights and flags in the air but the other boats refuse to come for us. I did everything, I light fire but from the time people saw the light I don’t know what happen but they just didn’t respond. All I was thinking was that they going to let me and Hawkesworth lose our lives for nothing. And what hurt me is that some of our own Bajan fishermen refuse to come for us,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“Nobody came to our help but the Venezuelan coast guard. They treat us really good I must say. They gave us food, made sure we got a bath and clothes. They even took us back to see the boat but everything was just gone,” the experienced Watson said.
“I glad I get to Barbados safe because nobody knew where we were,” he added.