CHRISTOPHER BUGROS depended on God and his swimming techniques taught to him by his father Anthony, to make it to land after he went missing at sea 25 miles off shore last week.
Last Wednesday, 24-year-old Bugros and his friends went diving for fish off the North-east coast of Balandra when he got separated from them and spent over 12 hours in the ocean, fighting against strong currents and high waves to get back to shore.
Bugros, on Friday, spoke with the media at his Saut D’eau Road, Maraval home. He said he had to get rid of his tank and weight belt to become buoyant in his bid to survive. “I started to get problems breathing because water was coming in my mouth. So I cut the regulator hose and used it as a snorkel because I didn’t have a one. I took off the tank and used it as a floatation device but it was too heavy, so I dumped the tank and weight belt.
I kept praying ‘Lord just help’ and was my studying family. I kept heading to land. It was looking close yet far and I keep telling myself ‘Chris boy you not dying out here, you just have to keep going’ and I kept swimming towards land.
Anthony, a seasoned diver who taught his son all he knew, said he gave his son a one per cent chance of survival if he hadn’t listened to him. He recalled being lost at sea for two hours between Trinidad and Tobago and kept swimming in circles until his friends found him six miles from where he was last seen. He said, in his years of diving he has lost many friends and was thankful that his son made it out alive.
Anthony, 69, said his son will receive counselling. He joked: “Ask him what I got him... a box of Brunswick sardine. That is all the fish he eating for a month, no more fishing.” He added that as a diver with many years of experience, he is willing to teach others.
Christopher recalled seeing land, close, yet far and it looked “choonkey” from where he swam. He said, on his second dive he felt himself being pulled away from his friends and found himself drifting as the current was too strong.
“I was drifting and began to pray. I was seeing land but the current was pelting me down the road. By midnight I started to feel cold because the temperature changed, but I kept swimming. Then the current changed and started to pull me back to where I started.
I started to swim backwards and sideways. I saw a boat pass and I whistled and waved my gun, but it was too far for anyone to see me.”
Bugros said as he began to get closer to land, he used his spear-gun to feel for rocks and other debris in front of him because he was swimming faster and did not want to crash into something and lose consciousness. As he felt his gun touch sand he began to swim faster. When his flipper touched sand he increased his speed. He came out the water walking backwards and collapsed as he reached shore. On the sand he willed himself to continue, crawling and dragging himself to a house near the beach. There he was given coffee, a change of clothing and a chance to call his relatives.
He went diving around 10 am and made it back to land around 3 am the following day. His navigation said he swam for 44 miles. His journey began in Balandra and he ended in La Floret, Toco.
His father told reporters that as soon as he and his family can, they will visit the people who cared for his son. “Thank you for feeding and clothing my son.” He also thanked the Coast Guard and everyone else who helped.
Anthony said his family is a God-fearing one, and while he was out at sea they lit Christopher’s candle. He added that he found it strange that his son kept seeing one light as he made his way to shore.