Cruise ship passed by disabled fishing boat
Barred from going to the bridge herself to notify the ship’s officers, Ms. Meredith said she told a Princess Cruises sales representative what they had seen, and he assured her he passed the news on to crew.
The birdwatchers said they even put the representative on one of the spotting scopes so he could see for himself.
Ms. Meredith went to her cabin and noted their coordinates from a TV feed from the ship, booted up her laptop and emailed the U.S. Coast Guard what she had seen. She said she hoped someone would get the message and help.
She sent a copy to her son. When she returned to the promenade deck, she could still see the boat.
But nothing happened. The ship kept going. And the little boat with the waving men disappeared.
“We were kind of freaking out, thinking we don’t see anything else happening,” Ms. Meredith said.
Mr. Gilligan could no longer bear to watch.
“It was very disturbing,” he said. “We asked other people, ‘What do you think we should do?’ Their reaction was: ‘Well, you’ve done what you could do.’ Whether something else could have been done, that’s a bit frustrating to think about.”
Mr. Vasquez said he slipped their bodies into the sea after they began to rot in the heat. Before he was rescued, a rainstorm gave him fresh water to drink, helping him survive. Throughout the ordeal, he thought about his eight brothers, and never gave up hope.
“Yes, that’s it. That’s it. That is us,” he said. “You can see there, the red sweater I’m waving and, above it is the sheet that we put up to protect us from the sun.”
Mr. Vasquez mentioned the ship in his first statement to Panamanian authorities when he returned to his country.
Back at home in Oregon, Ms. Meredith couldn’t sleep, wondering what happened to the men. Reading a news story about a Panamanian rescued off Ecuador after 28 days in an open boat, she figured that was the boat they had seen. She pestered Princess Cruises, the Coast Guard, and even the Panamanian embassy.
“We were all just sick about it, and just wanted to believe the ship notified someone,” she said.