Divemaster at DiveConsepts in Tulamben/Bali
(This article was originally posted on her blog
, July 2012)
You might have heard these jokes about divers taking torches on every dive, even during the day, and how silly that is. Well, for me it was never silly to bring a torch during daylight as you can point out small fish much easier but, to be honest, I never thought this small torch would ever be so important and survival.
But let me start from the beginning.
A group of 12 divers left Tulamben/Bali early in the morning, all excited about the three wonderful dives we were about to do that day on our Nusa Penida Daytrip.
There was one Instructor and me, the Divemaster in charge, on the boat. Our fist dive was at Manta Point, where we saw about eleven or twelve Manta Rays! Even though the water was freezing cold (about 22 degrees) we had the dive of our lives seeing these wonderful, massive but graceful creatures. I’ve never seen anything like that and we all ended our dive with huge smiles on our faces.
The second dive of the day we did at Crystal Bay, where the waters are indeed crystal clear and the currents can get quite dangerous but one has a really good chance seeing a Mola Mola (also called Moonfish) which we didn’t. We had an amazing dive anyway with moderate currents and loads of pretty fish and corals.
After lunch, which we had on the boat, and a nap it was time for the last dive – a drift dive.
It was my first time ever doing a drift dive and I was very excited about it.
We had good conditions for the dive and our Instructor told us the water would be much warmer than during our first dives which made some of the divers decide to wear only a short wetsuit instead of a long and a short one.
The water temperature was indeed 27 degrees and the drift dive was like being on a highway. One could see on the faces of the divers how much fun everyone had. Most of them were laughing so much that they were running out of air quickly and I ended the dive with seven divers after 35 minutes doing the safety stop. I could still see all the corals underneath me and I sent the Surface Marker Buoy up for the boat to see us and pick us up.
But when we emerged there was no boat in sight. I was waving with the buoy, waiting for our boat to see us and pick us up but there was no boat. The surface was already quite rocky with waves about half a meter high and it was hard to see anything. We started building a line, holding hands, trying to kick towards the shore (which was still in sight).
After about 30 Minutes we could hear a boat’s engine but it was far away and didn’t look at all like our boat. We decided to dump our weight belts and started whistling and shouting, waving our hands and the buoy. Suddenly a boat showed up and we were trying to get the crews attention but it seemed they didn’t see us. That was the last boat we saw for hours. Half an hour before sunset I decided to dump the tanks as it would be too dangerous to dump them at night and it made it much easier floating and kicking.
Hours later we were still holding on to each other kicking towards the island, twenty hard kicks and twenty slow kicks, trying to fight the current which was building up. We saw a beautiful sunset and an amazing moonrise and a lot of fluorescence plankton and jellyfish (which stung a little bit but nobody got seriously hurt).
As soon as it got dark I started to sign SOS with my torch which I luckily had with me (as I had every dive ever since I got it) every few minutes.
Eventually we were out of energy from kicking all the time fighting the current, but it kept as warm so we tried to keep kicking our legs to fight the cold, still holding on to each other. I think I’ve never felt so cold in my life. After being in the water for almost 5 hours we gave up fighting the current. We just held each other, kicking our legs gently, asking everyone every few minutes if they were still awake. About two hours later we saw the lights of a boat and we started shouting and whistling and I gave light signs like crazy with my torch. Suddenly the waves and current were building up again twisting and twirling us around, waves breaking over our heads, which made it hard for us to see the boat. Half an hour we were wondering whether the crew on the boat saw us or not but we didn’t give up, shouting our souls out, shining SOS in the boats direction.
I felt like dreaming when I realized that the crew saw us giving light signs back to us.
As soon as the boat was close enough they threw a rope where we could hold on to and they pulled us up on board. I was just falling on the floor, totally exhausted, shivering like crazy but I have never been so happy to see anyone in my entire life. These 10 fishermen will always be my heroes!
They helped us out of our BCD’s, provided blankets, towels, sarong, jackets and whatever they could find to keep us warm, hot tea with lots of sugar, noodles and biscuits.
It took another 4 hours until we reached the harbor close to Sanur/Bali, where we were picked up by our instructor.
The fishing crew told us that they couldn’t see us, they couldn’t hear us but they saw the lights of my torch.This is why a small torch saved the lives of 8 people.
I am so happy that nobody got lost or injured.
After 8 ½ hours in the water we only got a few blisters and some jellyfish stings. I don’t even want to imagine what could have happened.For now, I’m only happy we survived this accident.
(Over: Alinas torch, that saved her life.)