Happy end to four-day ordeal at sea for fishermen
When A. Maisha and N. Mustafa set out to sea for fishing before sunrise on Tuesday from Androth in Lakshadweep, they told their families that they will be back by afternoon, as they usually do. It has been their routine for close to 18 years and their small boat ‘Najiya’ has been a trusted ally all through. But without warning, the boat’s engine played spoilsport that day.
They were stuck somewhere in the middle of the sea, with the coast nowhere in sight. Thus started their four-day ordeal which came to an end on Saturday morning with the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) bringing them to the safety of the Beypore port.
“Though we were stuck in the middle of nowhere, we were familiar with all those areas. But without the engine all we could do was depend on the wind. And, unluckily, the wind was moving us away from our coast and towards Kerala,” Mustafa says.
Weren’t they scared? Maisha lets out a hearty laugh and asks, “why should we fear the sea after spending all our lives in the waters.” As if to explain, Mustafa adds, “the rain was heavy on two of the nights. The sea also got violent. Then we had doubts of whether we will be safe in this small boat.”
The two had enough food to see through the days at sea. With the duo failing to return by night on July 23, the Androth police informed the ICG about them. Over the next three days, a thorough search operation was conducted.
“The Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC) activated an international safety net with details of the missing boat being continuously transmitted to all vessels transiting the area. Dornier aircraft from the Kochi base were also pressed into service. By Friday evening, one of the aircraft detected the boat around 40 nautical miles off the Kerala coast. Immediately, an ICG ship was sent to the location,” says M. Venkatesh, ICG Station Commander, Beypore.
The ship towed ‘Najiya’ all the way to Beypore in the inclement weather. Maisha and Mustafa, despite the ordeal, looked cheerful and healthy.