Lost at sea for 3 days, rescued sailor returns home
A B.C. man has returned home to the Okanagan after spending three days adrift on a tiny dinghy off the coast of Costa Rica.
Jud Baker and his friend John Davidson were returning from a tropical sailing adventure on a 13-metre trimaran when disaster struck 130 kilometres from shore.
"I hear this crash. What the heck was that?" Baker told CTV News.
Damage from earlier in the trip was too much for the boat, which began to break apart.
"We tried calling, ‘mayday, mayday, mayday' -- no response – ‘mayday, mayday, mayday.' It's not working. All right, tie the steering wheel down, let's get the dinghy in the water," Baker recalled.
The sailboat sank. For 50 hours, the pair rowed the dinghy in a frantic but futile effort to get to shore; Baker wore his hands raw trying.
For three days, they were left without food and water.
But they each had a GPS locator, and their distress signals were picked up, all the way in Victoria.
"We contacted Costa Rica to make sure they were acting on the information," said Wayne Bamford of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre.
"We put them in touch with U.S. Coast Guard."
A Coast Guard aircraft spotted the pair from the air, and a freighter made the rescue.
"We're slamming up against the hull. Finally they got a rope to us, pulled us in to the door thing. They dropped down a lifeline," Baker said.
Once onboard, the exhausted pair was given the star treatment.
"It was like, ‘Here's my shoes, my socks, my pants. You guys want a glass of water, you want Gatorade, you want food?'" Baker said.
But it wasn't until they were safe on the freighter that the seriousness of the situation sunk in.
"It was overwhelming, right? I don't know if I could have made it another day. I was exhausted, mentally, physically. I was hallucinating on the last night," Baker said.
Despite the ordeal, he says he hopes to get another boat one day, and plans to sail again.
Davidson has yet to return to Canada; he lost his passport during the ordeal.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Kent Molgat