Moya Gyandass paced anxiously along the Carli Bay shoreline yesterday, as the party who went searching for her husband Sieunarine Gyandass and neighbour Vedesh Marlo returned. But Gyandass’ hope for a miracle was quickly reduced to tears as all the crew returned with was the life jacket her husband was last seen wearing.
Sieunarine was the owner of a flat bottom boat that took the ill-fated trip to the Gulf of Paria on Sunday afternoon. Two of his relatives drowned while he and Marlo disappeared after the jumped overboard when the boat began taking in water. Two men also survived the ordeal.
Kenneth Rampersad, who led the search team, said they reached close to Venezuela but had to return because their gas was running low. Rampersad, a cousin, said on their way back he spotted the life jacket floating.
According to reports, Sieunarine, 51, his brother Chunilal Gyandass, 53, brother-in-law Kumar Lalla, 49, cousin Ronald Narinesingh, 36 and Marlo, 23 and his cousin Glen Prahalad, 34, left Carli Bay around 1 pm Sunday to fish. But the choppy sea condition caused the boat to take in water and around 3 pm when it began to sink the men jumped out.
Lalla, who wore a life jacket and Prahalad were able to swim back to shore but the others drifted away.
The T&T Coast Guard responded and along with the men’s relatives and fellow fishermen, the search began but was called off a few hours later because of fading light. The search resumed and around 11.30 am yesterday and they found the bodies of Chunilal and Narinesingh, which had drifted almost 80 kilometres south-east from where they jumped overboard. The search continued for Sieunarine and Marlo late yesterday.
Lalla said Narinesingh had held onto a cooler but the current was too strong. Sieunarine, who had a life jacket, was said to have only thrown it around his neck. The boat, along with the engines, sank and has not been recovered.
Lalla, who returned to the beach yesterday, recalled that when they reached their destination, they anchored the boat with a metal rim and threw their fishing lines. He said because the water was rough, fish were not biting.
“All the boys said that we should go ashore, relax and then go back. They started the boat engine and it raced off. The front raised and that was it. The water splashed inside the boat and the current pulled it down.
“All of us jumped overboard. I had on a floater (life jacket). I float up, but the rest, my cousin and brother-in-law, jumped out and the current pulled them down. I could not help them, I studied to save myself,” Lalla said.
Reaching back to shore was precarious, as the current kept pulling Lalla south-east. He said he relaxed his body in the water to stay afloat and as the tide descended, he swam to shore.
Carli Bay has a muddy shoreline which can cause sea-bathers to get stuck. Lalla said he had to crawl until one of his relatives on the shore saw him and rushed to his assistance. He believes if all the men had worn jackets they all would have survived.