Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Survivor, an atheist, turned believer after ordeal
They were so close to hitting land off Kota Belud and later Labuan but winds pushed them away in their nine-day ordeal that ended with a poaching Vietnamese fishing boat rescuing them in the waters off Layang Layang.
"I had given up hope on the eighth day. I told the others to prepare for death. I prayed to my grandmother asking her for help. I promised that I will be good and take care of her great-grandchildren," said the father of two.
"I'm an atheist but now I believe there's definitely a higher power," he said Monday as he slowly recovered from the nightmare following his return with Spaniards David Hernandes Gasulla, 29, Martha Miguel, 30, and resort worker Armella Ali Hassan, 23.
The four were picked up by Malaysian coastguards from the Vietnamese and brought here on May 12.
Lam, 44, said that after the prayer, he smelled a strong whiff of Tiger Balm (a mint-scented ointment meant for joint pains and breathing problems) on the eighth night and thought it was a sign.
"I asked Martha if she could smell it too, and she said yes, so I thought someone must have done something or put some kind of spell on this boat or perhaps it was a good omen" he said, adding that he then prayed to his grandmother for help again.
"The next morning, I saw that Martha was having her period, so I asked her to 'wash' the bow of the boat with her menses and urine to cleanse whatever evil spell that may have been put here," he said.
Lam said it was a few hours after that that a Vietnamese fishing vessel noticed them and pulled them on board to safety, ending their nightmare that began while they were on their boat ride back to Simpang Mengayau, on the northern tip of Borneo, from Pulau Balambangan on May 2.
"It was the best feeling in the world because after seeing and missing so many ships at sea, we were losing hope that help would ever come," he said, adding that "one or two local fishermen just zoomed past" despite their calls for help.
Lam, an avid sea sports enthusiast, said their journey on a new boat from Simpang Mengayau was filled with bad luck from the beginning - when they left the island at about 5.30pm, they were immediately hit by strong waves and changing currents and winds.
"A huge wave threw all of us off the boat and we saw it circling before capsizing," Lam said, adding that bad luck continued when he realised that he had not put on the control switch for the boat engine on his wrist.
"I could stop the engine till the boat capsized as I had to save Armella who could not swim," he recalled.
They tried to grab essentials such as drinking water but almost everything was lost.
"When we finally got the boat right up and climbed inside, we realised that our handphones were soaked and not functioning," he said, adding that the radio equipment was also washed out.
Lam said Armella, who had put her handphone in a waterproof bag in her life jacket, was in panic and did not tell them about it until the third day when the battery was already dead.
"I did not get angry because we had just been spotted by a search plane so I was confident that help was coming," he said.
Lam said they had hoped to be pulled by currents into the Kota Belud area and later Labuan, but the winds blew them in another direction.
"We were about six kilometres from Labuan, and I wanted to swim to shore to get help. I tied a rope around myself but after I got into the water, David and Martha pulled me back because there was a shark around," he added.
Lam, a Chinese national who is married to Sabahan Carrine Ng, said that when he met his wife at the airport, he just told her "I am sorry" while she cried.
Now, he says he will go back to sea but never pilot the boat by himself.
"Safety will be my stress from now on. All my boats will be equipped with necessary safety features and emergency equipment," Lam said. - DE
Blamed God, Swears Off Sashimi And How The Smell Of Tiger Balm Ended Their Nightmare
Hong Kong citizen Tommy Lam Wai Yin, 44, who is married to a Sabahan and operates a resort on Kudat revealed how the four castaways thoughts soon turned morbid after spending days adrift on open sea, becoming philosophical, engaging in marathon discussions on mortality.
After days without food, they resorted to eating flying fish which landed in their boat.
"I will never eat sashimi for a long time.
"It was very bad, but I enjoyed it because I was so hungry," Lam recounted their story to AFP yesterday.
He also revealed that they could have called for help on day one if only they realized that one of the phones which was protected by plastic had not been ruined by seawater.
The Malaysian who was working as an intern in his resort, Armilla Alihassan, only discovered after her battery went dead that her phone was still working.
"We don't blame her. She was in shock," Lam said. He also shared how the two Spanish tourists, David Hernandes Gasulla and Martha Miguel, whom he was ferrying on the capsized boat had attempted to swim ashore but turned back because they told him that they saw sharks.
The Spaniards who also gave an interview on Spanish radio after their return home said that they depended on their recollection of a movie about being marooned at sea for survival ideas.
One of the survivors had the idea of eating clams stuck to the bottom of the boat and mussels encrusted on a passing piece of flotsam, which provided more nourishment, Miguel recalled.
They got drinking water thanks to her recollection from a movie.
"I recalled seeing something about a castaway who had to do this thing to drink water. I wasn't certain whether it was from evaporation or the water, but seeing as we had so much time on our hands we made it up as we went along," Miguel said, ABC News reports.
They devised the water filtration method using a cellphone screen and a plastic bag to catch evaporating water.
"Doing it every 15 minutes, we were each able to have a drink once an hour," Miguel explained.
Hernandez spoke to reporters about how the four never lost hope, even though many vessels and an airplane passed close by without seeing them even as they tried to use the glass on their mobile phones screen to reflect sunlight as a signal to passing ships.
Lam also spoke about almost giving up hope after the eighth day but for divine intervention.
“I had given up hope on the eighth day. I told the others to prepare for death. I prayed to my grandmother asking her for help. I promised that I will be good and take care of her great-grandchildren," said Lam.
The father of two shared that after sending out the prayer, he caught a whiff of Tiger Balm (a traditional Chinese herbal ointment used for joint pains and respiratory discomfort).
“I asked Martha if she could smell it too, and she said yes, so I thought someone must have done something or put some kind of spell on this boat or perhaps it was a good omen” he recalled, saying that he repeated his prayer to his grandmother.
I’m an atheist but now I believe there’s definitely a higher power,” he confessed when the next day, a Vietnamese fishing vessel noticed them and pulled them on board to safety, ending their nightmare.
On 2 May, Lam, an avid sea sports enthusiast was island hopping on his new boat with his intern and the two Spanish tourists when strong waves and changing currents overturned the motorboat setting off their 10-day sea ordeal.
Posted by wikisabah at 3:16:00 PM