Canadian couple chronicles pirate attack survival story on video
WATCH: What was supposed to be the start of a sailing adventure for a Canadian couple turned into an ordeal in the Honduran jungle, after what they say was a pirate attack. Global News has an exclusive first look at the video footage chronicling their survival story. Reid Fiest reports.
Retiring at a young age seems like only a dream to many, but enjoying the benefits of no longer working turned into a nightmare for a couple from Calgary.
Andy Wasinger, 46, and Loretta Reinholdt, 54, were on a sailing adventure down the Caribbean coast of Central America that ended with them being attacked at sea, robbed, forced ashore and left helpless.
Eventually — and thankfully — they were rescued after spending four days sheltered in the Honduran jungle.
Now safe and sound, the couple has shared with Global News video footage they took after the attack.
With their camera, they recorded the details of what happened in case they were kidnapped or never rescued — “in hopes of someone finding the camera,” Wasinger said.
Wasinger said the couple feared they wouldn’t come out of the ordeal alive. “At one point (during what they described as a pirate attack), we were actually sitting next to each other on deck and we had one final kiss,” he told Global News. “We thought we would die. We said goodbye to each to each other.”
The video messages also helped to keep their spirits up over the coming days.
The couple set sail March 27 on the boat they hired from an American captain in Belize, bound for Roatan – one of the idyllic Bay Islands off Honduras.
“We met him, our captain, online and we were working as crew members in exchange to learn how to sail,” Reinholdt told Global News in a Skype interview from Mexico, where the couple is now recovering from the ordeal.
They were attacked just a day later, and less than a day away from their destination, when they moved to anchor closer to the Honduran shoreline to avoid stormy seas for the night. It was about 5:00 p.m. on March 28.
Reinholdt said the four men in a fishing boat came after their vessel as they went to anchor for the night.
“It was going at such great speeds that we really thought this was odd,” she said. As a precaution, Wasinger and the captain told her to go down into the cabin.
At first the young men said they only wanted gas for their boat. But they continued to tail and circle the vessel even after Wassinger said there was no fuel to spare.
In an instant, the men — armed with two guns, a knife and a spear gun — boarded the boat and began threatening their lives. They wanted whatever money was on board.
Even though Wasinger and Reinholdt cooperated and handed over their wallets, the men swept through the boat, rummaging through everything and even trashed the captain’s quarters in search of more loot. They turned up nothing and grew angrier and more violent.
“We were shaking. We were petrified. But I kept saying to Andy, ‘Give them what they want. It’s not worth our lives,” Reinholdt recounted.
She said one of the men held a gun to Wasinger’s temple at one point. Later, a knife held to her throat. The men threatened to kill her unless the captain found more money. He went below deck and retrieved his own wallet.
But, the thieves didn’t stop. They rendered the boat inoperable — stealing the GPS, damaging equipment and cutting the main sail line — and tossing all of the drinking water containers overboard. Finally, the men steered the boat into a “small, hidden bay” and “rammed it” ashore.
After looting more supplies from the boat, the men took off with about $1,000 in cash and valuables, the couple told Global News.
Wasinger said it all unfolded in about half an hour.
The couple and the captain waited for five tense minutes to emerge from below deck, after the thieves took off, but rejoiced when they realized the terrifying attack was over.
The relief only lasted a moment. They feared their attackers would return in a matter of time.
They fled into the thick jungle of what they would later learn was Honduras’ Jeanette Kawas National Park.
For four days, they and the captain subsisted on rations of peanut butter, oatmeal, cheese and rainwater. The captain would sneak out of their hideout in the park at times to grab supplies and clothes from the stranded vessel and to try, unsuccessfully, to radio for help.
They found a path in the forest and left a SOS message in both English and Spanish.
“On the fourth day, I think it was around 2 o’clock, we were keeping watch while the captain was using the VHF [radio]… and we turned to the right and saw six or seven young men walking towards [us],” Reinholdt said.
They ran, afraid it was the attackers finally coming back for them. The captain was still at the boat and they could see from afar that the men had approached and began to take him away.
It was more than an hour before they were able to trust that the situation was going to have a happy ending and they would be safe.
It turned out their rescuers were biology students from a nearby campground, Wasinger said. Somebody else had seen the SOS and told the students. Wasinger and Reinholdt still don’t know who that person is.
“If it wasn’t for their care and making us feel so safe, I think this incident would have stayed with us a lot longer,” Reinholdt said of the care and support they received after the rescue.
With files from Reid Fiest
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