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October 2004 Vol. 30, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Sixteen Divers Surface to Find Boat Missing

from the October, 2004 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

If you just canít imagine another scenario for divers drifting at sea, consider this incident in early August.

When 16 divers, including one American, surfaced from a dive 25 miles off Malaysiaís Kuantan coast, their liveaboard was nowhere in sight. A fire had damaged the engine and generators and the current took it far away. The ten men and six women discarded their weight belts and tied themselves together with a floating mooring line they found. They tried to attract the attention of passing ships with airhorns and safety sausages, but without luck.

Then, however, they spotted their disabled dive boat. Two instructors made a grueling 2 1/2 hour swim to reach it as darkness approached. On board, they came up with an ingenious way to navigate the boat back to the divers. When the current was in their favor, they lifted anchor. When it was in the opposite direction, they lowered the anchor to stop it from moving. They reached the others, who were swimming toward the boat, in less than an hour, but more than ten hours after they first surfaced.

They couldnít use the boatís communications gear and were too far from shore for cell phones to work. The boat was taking on water and so they spent the night bailing. The next morning, they burned rubbish and fired flares to attract the attention of passing trawlers, which ignored them. Finally, a cargo ship spotted the boat and alerted the port control, which sent helicopters. No one was the worse for wear.

The New Paper, Singapore Press

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