…after surviving a 26-day sea ordeal
By CHARLES KADAMANA
AN ELEVEN (11) year old boy with his father and grandfather survived 26 days drifting out in the open ocean after their boat developed a mechanical problem early last month.
They were rescued about 750 nautical miles away from Honiara and 400 nautical miles from Fiji by a fishing vessel Zhong Shui 702 and were brought over to Honiara.
The boat arrived yesterday in Honiara.
The trio Chris Laule 11, John Laule 40, and Mostyn Paphue 60, were traveling back to their home island of Pileni after purchasing cargoes for their canteen at the provincial capital, Lata when their engine developed a mechanical problem.
Skipper John Laule recalled that on February 3 they were traveling home after buying cargoes at Lata without realizing there is problem with the mix ratio of engine oil they use.
He said he did inquire about the content of the oil mix while still in Lata but one of the mechanics has assured him it was already mixed in the correct proportion of oil and fuel.
They took off from Lata shortly after.
Mr Laule said, it took roughly 10 gallons (50litres) of fuel to travel from Lata to their village in Pileni.
He said, after having used up the first five-gallon fuel tank that they have, he only came to realise the problem of the oil mixture when he tried on the second fuel tank.
“I tried to pull the engine but it was strong and that is when I realize the problem,” he said.
Mr Laule said on the first night out in the sea they tried to drop the anchor but the strong wind swept them out into the ocean.
He said according to information he received from the fishing vessel crew that rescued them, they were located 400 nautical miles from Fiji and 750 nautical miles from Honiara.
Mr Laule said they managed to survive the sea ordeal with some uncooked food, dry coconut and fishing. Above all, they also prayed.
He said, during their 26 days of drifting he continued to encourage his son and father to remain strong.
He said after 13 days out drifting, their water supply was all used up. It was then that they resorted to taking water from the ocean to drink.
“After 13 days we have to dive under our boat about a meter down to take water because the salt level is low,” he said.
Mr Laule said, when the fishing vessels came to rescue them on February 27 they were left with one bale rice and three small turtles they caught while drifting on the sea.
He had nothing but praises for the captain and the crew of the fishing vessel Zhong Shui 702 for rescuing them and acknowledged their care and hospitality from the time they were rescued until their arrival in Honiara.
Upon their arrival, the trio were taken to the National Referral Hospital for medical examination and it was confirmed that their health condition has normalised.
They have been discharged and are now living with relatives at Mamanawata Settlement in Central Honiara where they are awaiting their return to their homes.