HONOLULU — A Colombian mariner who was lost at sea for more than two months says he's grateful to God for his life and thanks those who rescued him.
The unidentified 29-year-old told a U.S. Coast Guard interpreter in Honolulu that it feels good to be back on land.
"He thanks the people that picked him up, for rescuing him. He says again he's very thankful to God," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Simey Luevano, who interpreted for the man during a short interview filmed by the Coast Guard. "And the hope that his faith gave him and his mother.
"And he feels very bad for what happened to his friends that he was on board with. He would have loved it if his friends from the boat would have been here with him," Luevano said as he interpreted for the man.
The mariner said he survived the ordeal by eating fish and seagulls, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
He said his three companions died at sea, but their bodies were not aboard the vessel that was adrift in a lightly traveled expanse of the ocean. He did, however, have the men's passports.
A merchant ship spotted the skiff more than 2,000 miles southeast of Hilo, Hawaii in late April. The crew of the Nikkei Verde picked him up and brought him near Honolulu on Wednesday. The 600-foot bulk carrier then transferred him to a small Coast Guard boat, which brought him to shore.
Coast Guard video shows the survivor dressed in a black t-shirt, jeans, a baseball cap and a life vest as he gingerly climbed down a ladder to the Coast Guard's vessel.
Petty Officer Second Class Tara Molle says Coast Guard was unable to release the man's name because the agency didn't receive it until after the Coast Guard closed its own case when it handed him over to Colombian consulate officials on Wednesday.
The four sailors had left Colombia more than two months ago, the Coast Guard said. At some point, their skiff's engine failed and they were left adrift.
Molle said the Coast Guard wasn't investigating the case because it falls outside its purview.
The mariner isn't a U.S. citizen and his skiff wasn't U.S.-flagged, she said. The Coast Guard's responsibility in this case was to make sure the man was rescued and brought to safety, she said.