MARIGOT–A private motor vessel capsized and another vessel sank off Sandy Ground in rough seas on Saturday evening, but miraculously the occupants of both vessels survived by swimming to shore.
The drama played out off-shore from Sandy Ground around 7:30pm. The occupants of the first vessel, an eight-metre-long boat without a cabin, had been on a birthday day-trip to Happy Bay and afterward to Grand Case before returning with the intention of going through the Sandy Ground Bridge to access Marina Royale.
However, due to the darkness the boat’s driver missed the entry channel and ended up lower down in Sandy Ground, before attempting to go out and try to enter the channel again. A big wave capsized the boat and all seven occupants were plunged into the sea without any time to put on life jackets.
Friends on another, smaller boat that saw the first boat tip over, attempted a rescue, but that boat too was swamped by a big wave and began to sink. The seven occupants of the latter boat – six adults and a seven-year-old child – did have just enough time to put on life jackets.
“It was impossible for the second boat to get near us because the waves were too big,” survivor from the first boat Aurélie Romero told The Daily Herald. “I thought I was going to die. My big fear was that boat would hit me on the head and knock me out, but luckily that didn’t happen. There was big wave after big wave pushing you under and I swallowed so much water. I tried to hold onto a rope attached to the boat, but waves kept hitting me in the face and I couldn’t hold on or breathe. It all happened so quickly.”
Romero estimated they were all in the water about 300 metres from shore. Initially, before the capsizing, they had tried to tie up to a buoy to remain with the boat, but the attached rope broke after five big waves.
“A girl with me in the water said we had no option but to try and swim to the shore. I could not swim: I had nothing left in me after swallowing so much water and I was in a panic. This girl, her name is Charlotte, she found a piece of rope and put it around me and started swimming, pulling me along. She saved my life. I think we were swimming about 45 minutes to get to the shore.”
Romero added that lives were undoubtedly saved by the quick thinking of Sandy Ground residents from Rue Ladyfish, who were first on the scene and helped pull everyone to safety out of the dangerous shore-break and rocks. She recalled a man with a flashlight pulling her and her friend out of the water.
“They were so nice with us. It was impossible to get out of the water without them, I was too weak and it was very dangerous for them to help us. They looked after us on the beach, gave us towels and bottled water, until the Pompiers and Gendarmes arrived. I want to give a very big thank you to those residents from Rue Ladyfish. They were the first to rescue us. The accident was quite far out and in the dark, but they heard our cries for help.”
According to Romero, everyone survived the ordeal, but it was not known whether some in the group had sustained injuries. Romero was treated for shock in the hospital before a friend drove her home. Others had also gathered in the hospital to be checked out.
France Météo had issued a yellow vigilance alert on Friday for a north-north-easterly swell building to a stronger northerly swell over the weekend. Saturday’s forecast was for agitated seas and waves of two metres building to 2.5 metres from Saturday night to Sunday.
Bron: Daily Herald