Adrift for 19 hours... Hang on, I know him!
Yesterday I caught something on the news about 2 divers being rescued in Australia after floating for 19 hours. This is a very rare event. I used to get annoyed with the boat staff if I was floating for more than a few minutes! You can never say "It won't happen", but staff on dive boats that I have worked on are very attentive, always know who's in the water and are quick off the mark if anyone does not surface on time (normally because they want a longer dive).
It can happen of course. The movie "Open Water" was (vaguely) based on real events - divers being left behind by a dive boat. In the case that inspired that movie, the 2 divers were never found.
The news I saw about 2 divers being found after floating for 19 hours didn't seem that interesting. They were found, after all. But then today I was browsing and saw the name of one of the divers, Mr Richard Neely. Hang on, I know him! Rich has been in Phuket for a number of years working as a dive instructor and tour leader on dive boats - not the kind of person you'd expect to go missing on a dive! And it's not the first time he's had to float. In 2005 he was working on a dive boat that sank in the night. All crew and guests were floating for 8 hours before being found, luckily in calm seas.
• Sunday Mirror
• Daily Mail
Seems they sold their story, and why not indeed! But now some people think they should cough up for the rescue...
See you back in Phuket, Rich!
UPDATE - a journalist by the name of Andrew Drummond came sniffing around last week, he visited quite a few dive shops and (as I told him) everyone said the same thing, basically that Rich is a very nice guy and a top dive pro:
See here: www.andrew-drummond.com