Heinz searching for man lost at sea for 24 days who survived on ketchup, wants to give him boat

Heinz is looking for Dominican Elvis Fracois to hand him the keys to a brand-new boat, equipped with full navigational technology. PHOTO: AFP

Condiment brand Heinz is looking for the sailor who spent weeks lost at sea in January, surviving largely on ketchup – and it is asking the Internet for help.

When “ketchup boat guy” turns up, he will be handed the keys to a brand-new boat, said the ketchup manufacturer.

But first, it has to find 47-year-old Elvis Francois, a sailor from the Caribbean island of Dominica, who survived 24 days lost at sea in a sailboat by eating ketchup before being rescued in Colombian waters.

In a video released by the Colombian Navy after his rescue in January, Mr Francois said: “I had no food. There was only a bottle of ketchup that was on the boat, garlic powder and Maggi (bouillon cubes). So I mixed it up with some water for me to survive 24 days at sea.”

Without knowing for sure that it was Heinz ketchup that helped keep Mr Francois alive, Heinz posted a call on its Instagram page on Feb 14 – or “(set the) message adrift into the sea of the Internet” – in the hope of tracking down the sailor.

According to the company’s social media, it has already contacted the government of Dominica and the Colombian Navy, which rescued him north-west of Colombia’s Puerto Bolivar.

But so far, the “message in a ketchup bottle” has failed to find Mr Francois, who had been repairing a sailboat off a harbour in the Caribbean island of St Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles last December when the weather turned foul, and he was swept out to sea.

“Without having any knowledge of navigation, he was lost and disoriented at sea. His efforts to manoeuvre the vessel and the equipment on board were to no avail,” a statement from the Colombian Navy said.

According to The Washington Post, Heinz plans to offer him “a new boat equipped with full navigational technology to avoid another disaster in the future”.

The company added that it is now widening the search internationally, and plans on enlisting other Heinz markets around the world to help track him down.

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