Houston man on a fishing trip got more than he expected Monday. Gustavo Burr and his girlfriend were on South Padre Island looking for the right spot to cast their lines. They noticed a strange boat near shore about 10 miles north of Beach Access 6.
The small craft looked abandoned. “I see nobody was there, so I thought they died or something (happened) in the ocean. I just took a picture and kept doing what I was doing,” Burr said.
The couple kept driving looking for a good fishing spot. It was then that they noticed a group of men walking along the shore. He thought the men had car problems and asked them if they needed help.
Burr said the men responded in Spanish. He said their heavy Cuban accent stood out.
Burr asked the men if they were the occupants from the boat. The men said they spent nearly three weeks in the small vessel. The men told Burr they were celebrating Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s birthday on Aug. 13 when they decided they would get in the boat and head to Mexico. One of them has family there. The men said they went through at least five storms. Those storms capsized their boat several times. They said sharks circled them at times. Burr said the men told him they thought they would die at sea.
The men told Burr they got water and food from a passing vessel. “When the storm came through and their engine got messed up they started using like a shower curtain … to guide the boat. They said the compass wasn’t working,” Burr said.
Burr said two of the men didn’t look well. “I was worried about the older guys. They were looking like they needed water. They were really hungry. One of them was coughing a lot,” Burr said.
Burr gave the men food and water. Burr said he was glad to help the men. “It can happen to me. It could happen to anybody,” he said.
Burr took the group to the Cameron County Park Police Department where they waited for Border Patrol. Burr said the Cubans etched their names on the inside of the boat in case they didn’t make it.