Three Mayaro fishermen who survived four days at sea, dehydrated and starved, as they paddled to shore with bucket covers, are so traumatised that they cannot sleep.
The fishermen and their relatives are yet to get an explanation from the T&T Coast Guard about why they got no help in their time of distress.
The family of Guayaguayare had to pool money together to hire a private helicopter to search the seas, while dozens of fishermen left their day’s work to assist in the search.
The stranded men – Shaquille Charles, Frank Anthony Sandy, and Walter Whiteman- used their knowledge of the sea currents to eventually paddle off the coast of Mon Diablo where they got help.
Shaquille’s mother Hilda Charles said they were trying to put their lives back together.
“It was not a nice experience but at least there was a happy ending,” Charles said. She explained that since her son returned home, he has not slept.
“He is still dehydrated and weak. He is lying down but very weak. He not sleeping at all. We know he is still traumatised,” Hilda said.
With her heart heavy from the terrifying experience, Charles said nobody had been able to rest.
She said she took a walk to the home of Frank Anthony Sandy and was told he too could not sleep.
“I did not get to talk to him but his mother told me he is still very traumatised by what happened,” Charles said.
Saying they were disappointed with the lack of response and assistance from the T&T Coast Guard, Charles said she has not been liaising with officials.
“They spoke to my daughter but I don’t know what was said. I am just happy that I got back my son,” Charles said.
Whiteman’s relative said he was disappointed that no assistance was given by the police or Coast Guard.
“The system failed us. When we went Saturday to make a report ion the station they said there was no corporal around to take the report,” Whiteman said.
He explained that everyone in the family was praying and many people put aside everything to help in the search.
But Richard Charles, the uncle of Shaquille Charles said it was time for all fishing vessels to be equipped with GPS so they could be easily found.
“We want Fisheries to get some permit or regulation to have a beacon or satellite device on each vessel. Too many people are losing their lives unnecessarily because the system is a failure. All over the world, they use technology where they lock in on the satellite and find the vessels. Every seaport needs to get this running. Invest and have the vessels equipped with technology so the Coast Guard could lock into the GPS and know where the vessel is located. If this is done, we will stop losing lives at sea,” he added.
The fishermen were left stranded while fishing on Saturday. They broke off a flag, fashioned a paddle with pieces of the broken flag and bucket covers. Then they paddled day and night until they reached the waters of Morne Diablo on Tuesday morning.
The men said they survived by faith with no food and no water.
T&T Coast Guard has not responded to Guardian Media’s questions about whether aid was given to the fishermen. Public affairs officer at the T&T Coast Guard Lieutenant Khadija Lamy said a statement will be issued but up to press time, no statement was forthcoming.