Dan and Kate Suski, along with an unnamed captain and first mate, are counting themselves lucky after they were forced to swim for their lives for more than half a day in the Caribbean waters off St. Lucia.
The brother and sister from San Francisco had chartered a boat to do some fishing last Sunday. When the 31-foot fishing vessel began to take on water, the siblings and crew had no choice but to abandon the boat. They put on their life jackets and jumped into the open water.
“It was completely surreal watching the boat stern go down, go subsurface underwater,” Dan said.
In the rough seas, the Suskis were soon separated from the crew by the huge waves. After some time, the siblings spotted land in the distance and swam toward it.
“It would disappear intermittently as we swam but we felt the wind behind us and used that as a gauge for direction,” Kate said.
After swimming for an unbelievable 14 hours, the Suskis made it to shore. They spent the night shivering with hypothermia, eating bananas and mangoes from an island orchard. The next day they encountered a farm worker who called for help.
“We were very lucky we found a small sliver of beach and we were able to get to safety that way,” Kate said.
The Suskis were hospitalized in St. Lucia and treated for dehydration and various injuries. The captain and his first mate were rescued on Monday, when a boat saw them and brought them to safety, according to reports.
In addition to the obvious threat of sharks, spring water temperatures in the Caribbean can be cool, making hypothermia as much a hazard as drowning. Hypothermia can set in quickly in water, leaving the victim dizzy, disoriented and weak. If the hypothermia continues, hallucinations and other mental issues can arise. The effect of cold water can vary from person to person, as body weight, body type and mental conditioning all play a role in one’s ability to survive in the water.
We’re thrilled all four people made it through this shipwrecked scenario safely.
Have you been marooned or had to swim for your life? Tell us your tale in the comments.