|Photo of the broken down fishing boat from cruise ship|
Three Panamanian men were on their way home after a night of fishing, happy with their success, when the motor on their small open boat rattled and quit, leaving them adrift in sight of land, but too far out for their cell phones to work. With nothing left to eat but the fish they caught and a few gallons of water, they drifted for 16 days, more than 100 miles from home, before they thought they must be saved.
"I said, `God will not forgive them,'" Vasquez recalled. "Today, I still feel rage when I remember that."
That same day, March 10, birdwatchers with powerful spotting scopes on the promenade deck of the luxury cruise ship Star Princess saw a little boat adrift miles away. They told ship staff about the man desperately waving a red cloth.
When Judy Meredith of Bend, Ore., looked through the scopes, she could plainly see it was a small open boat, like the kinds they had seen off Ecuador. And she could see a man waving what looked like a dark red T-shirt. "You don't wave a shirt like that just to be friendly," Meredith said. "He was desperate to get our attention."
Barred from going to the bridge herself to notify the ship's officers, Meredith said she told a Princess Cruises sales representative what they had seen, and he assured her he passed the news on to crew.