AN octogenarian fisherman whose boat was smashed on rocks during strong winds has told the Olive Press how remaining calm was key to staying alive.
Pensioner Hector Baglietto, 80, was forced to swim to safety and clamber over jagged rocks when his six-metre fibreglass ship, Tyjack, ran aground close to Europa Point.
The former fireman, who had been fishing when a three-metre wave slammed his vessel onto rocks, told the Olive Press: “I am lucky to be alive.”
He added however he was ‘never afraid’ when he got into trouble during strong winds last Tuesday.
“That first wave knocked me forward, cracking my rib and half-flooding my boat,” Baglietto, a former Gibraltar footballer, revealed.
“The next wave threw it onto shallow rocks. It was very scary. If it had capsized I would not be here to tell the tale.”
Speaking at his Glacis Estate home, he revealed: “I then waded through the rocks while being lashed by the waves until I got to dry land near the Europa Point cottages.”
He continued: “I was soaked right through and in quite a lot of pain also with a broken toe and plenty more bruises.”
Despite his injuries, he added that he was ‘very calm’ throughout the ordeal thanks to his decades of experience.
The grandfather, who is one of 11 children, is known to his friends as the ‘rubber man’ as he always manages to get up without serious injury.
“It is a nickname that I have had for years, and it seems appropriate this time, that is for sure,” he joked.
The Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) responded to the distressed vessel off Europa Point at 9:00am on Thursday after Baglietto had set sail at 6:30am.
Gibraltar Fire and Rescue Service treated the ‘shaken’ Gibraltarian, before he was transferred to St Bernard’s Hospital for medical attention.
Hector explained how he had been brought up in a family of fishermen in Catalan Bay.
The brave local, who retired from the Admiralty Fire Service at 50, admitted it would be the last time he went out sailing on his own.
He said: “I was planning to stop in summer anyway so I think that is it for me.
“I was sad to lose my boat I had named after my daughters Tyrene and Jaqueline, but as my nephew said, better my boat than me.”