As day four passed with no sight of doubles vendor Sieunarine Gyandass and his worker Videsh Marlo, who disappeared at sea, veteran fisherman Maheshwar Roopchandsingh said their demise could have been avoided if they knew about safety at sea.
Roopchandsingh, who had just returned to Carli Bay with a haul of fish from the Gulf of Paria, said fishermen have been keeping an eye out for the Gyandass and Marlo who disappeared underwater when their flat bottom boat sank on Sunday.
He told Guardian Media that on Sunday afternoon, the water in the gulf became choppy and because Gyandass’ boat had a flat bottom, it meant that the waves would have tossed it around. He said a pirogue can withstand choppy waters because of its arch-like shape. If the pirogue tilts to one side, its base remains in the water.
According to reports, Sieunarine Gyandass, 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 to fish in the Gulf of Paria around 1 pm on Sunday. Around 3 pm, in rough sea conditions, the boat began to flood and as the men attempted to return to shore, it began to sink. They jumped overboard, but only Lalla, who wore a life jacket and Prahalad were able to swim back to shore. The others drifted away. Around 11.30 am Monday, a search crew found the bodies of Chunilal and Narinesingh. The boat was found near King’s Wharf in San Fernando on Tuesday.
“Flat bottom boats are made from Aluminium so it is light. It rocks as you move through the wave. It’s mostly used for shallow areas, not far out where they would have gone. They would have been safer in a pirogue. This was six big men in a 15-foot boat so this was always dangerous,” Roopchandsingh said.
In his 35 years as a fisherman, Roopchandsingh said he has lost friends and family who went to sea and never returned. For those who were found dead, he said the current usually pulled them toward La Brea and so search crews should focus there.
He said that the men were not bonafide fishermen and went out to sea for recreation. He advised those seeking leisure to always wear a life jacket, regardless of whether they can swim.
“If you have 10 men in the boat carry 10 life jackets. If you have 20 men, carry 20 life jackets. I have seven jackets here on my boat. If any of us fall overboard, we will float.”