Jeff Gilligan, 61, of Portland, Oregon, spent more than 30 minutes on March 10 staring through a high-powered scope off Costa Rica at something red and brown and waving. He knew what he was seeing: a small, powerless fishing vessel, adrift on the Pacific Ocean, some 130 miles offshore.
Gilligan, Meredith and Dowdall sensed urgency in the waving man so they told two uniformed crewmembers what they saw: first, a Future Cruise Sales Manager, and later, a Junior Officer.
Something needed to be done, Gilligan said. Soon.
For nearly an hour, as the ship headed north toward Puntarenas, the little fiberglass “panga” floated starboard and the man kept up his waving.
“With a naked eye, you could barely see this little boat,” Gilligan said. But with 30-power binoculars, “you could almost see facial expressions and it was clear that it was a person on a boat.”
Gilligan helped the sales manager use the scope. The man agreed. It looked like trouble. He radioed the bridge and passed along the details.
“We kept thinking maybe they saw from the bridge what we described and they contacted the boat by radio or Panamanian Coast Guard and somebody else was en route to rescue them,” Gilligan said.
After all, maritime law calls for the master of a ship to render aid when spotting another vessel in distress.