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Charleston couple witnesses rescue on high seas

By From staff and wire reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A Charleston couple cruising the high seas witnessed the rescue of five Jamaican men who were adrift in the Caribbean for three weeks.

Tony and Diana Davis of Charleston were aboard the Island Princess cruise ship, owned and operated by Princess Cruises. The shipped was headed south when it spotted a small boat floating in the Caribbean.

"Diana and I were on Deck 7 when we first saw the small boat in the water," Tony Davis said in an email. "It looked out of place. At first, we could not see anybody in the boat. It turned out the five people were under a tarp."

Before they could report the sighting, their ship slowed down and began to turn around. The boat was located and five Jamaican men were found aboard.

"According to the staff, the five said they had motor trouble and wanted food, water and gas," Tony Davis said. "The five Jamaicans claimed they were going to a BBQ and have been adrift for three weeks."

The men had a goat carcass on the boat but the cruise line told them to leave it and remove the tarp so that they could see what was under it. A member of the ship's crew went down to the boat and looked around before allowing the five to board the ship.  

The couple, still on the cruise, arrived in Jamaica Tuesday. They are expected back in the States in a few days.

The Island Princess ship brought the group on board, Princess Cruises spokeswoman Susanne Ferrull said. Ferrull did not immediately know the boat passengers' conditions or ages.

The Island Princess left Fort Lauderdale a week ago and was bound for Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

The boaters asked cruise workers to give them fuel so they could continue on their way, but the cruise workers said they don't do that. They took the men aboard and notified officials in Jamaica.

The captain of the cruise ship notified passengers about the small boat earlier Monday on the loudspeaker.

"We noticed the boat slowing down," said passenger Andy Greenberg of Omaha, Neb. "We pulled up and the occupants were screaming: 'No food, no water.' "

Greenberg said passengers were told that the motor on the boat broke down.

The Coast Guard declined comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

The rescue took less than 45 minutes.


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