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Travel Insurance Claims - True Stories Just some of the weird and wonderful things that happen to World Nomads travellers while on the road

True Travel Tales - A Capsized Boat Experience

PHILIPPINES | Monday, 12 September 2011 | Views [2771]

What happened? Tell us your tale.

A group of us, mostly nomads, decided to go to a beautiful cove called Dicasalarin in Northern part of the Philippines. We were in the middle of a boat journey when our boat suddenly stopped. It was probably one of the longest ten minutes of our lives as our boat captain tried unsuccessfully to revive the motor of our boat. Our boat stopped at the middle of Aniao Islets and the relentless waves keep pushing us forward to the sharp and deadly rocks of the bigger Aniao Islets. My first actual realization that we are going to be in deep trouble was when our boat was merely arms-length away from the sharp rocks and the only thing that kept our boat from crashing was a piece of bamboo pole that we used to push our boat away from the deadly rocks

We were literally fighting it out with the elements until the first glimpse of hope arrived – a small outrigger fishing boat that can fit four people at the most. This boat passed us just few minutes ago when our boat was still running. One of the two passengers of the boat said that they had a gut feel that our boat will be in trouble because of the strong waves so they decided not to proceed to their destination and return to warn us instead. And oh so right they were, we were indeed in deep trouble when they arrived.

The first thing they have to do is to pull our boat away from the sharp rocks. They threw a rope at us and asked us to tie it to our boat. Our boat crew tied it in the boat’s bow but as they pull our boat, the rope somewhat got tangled in bamboo strake and coupled with the force of big waves, the unthinkable happened – our boat capsized.

Call it a blackout or a case of things happening to soon and too fast but we all find ourselves holding on to the capsized boat. Each of us has our own account on how we managed to hold on and find the boat after it capsized and as for me, since I was on the front part of the boat, I managed to jump just before the boat completely overturned and the boat’s bamboo strake was just in front of me as I emerged from the waters. A quick inventory of everyone showed that no one is missing – thank GOD, but the situation we where into was far from over. We have no life vests, the water was so cold, and we were still just few feet away from the rocks. The waves offer no help as we constantly slip and slide as it pounds on us. But little by little, and literally inches by inches, the small outrigger boat somehow managed to pull our capsized boat, with us hanging on, away from the rocks.

We were on the water for almost three quarter of an hour when another fishing boat arrived. They threw another rope and we tied it in our boat and they pull our boat away from the deadly rocks for good. Then they asked us to swim to their boat and they managed to rescue four of us, the most that their boat can accommodate. Then, the first small boat accommodated two more us and off they go leaving only three crews and one of us in the capsized boat, which was unfortunately – me.

Then after that, help started coming in. A large fishing boat, a speedboat and two jet ski from Bantay dagat arrived at the scene. The large fishing boat threw a very large Styrofoam floating device at us and I swam into it and they pull me and the other kid crew into their boat. Then, with the help of a speedboat, our capsized boat was turned-over again and that was when our bags with our cameras and phones emerged from the waters.

Since we were separated by different boats, we all got reunited a couple of hours later and we really just can’t believe that we survived that.

What was the outcome of the event? 

Every material possession we have either sank in the sea or was heavily damaged. But we never seem to mind these losses because all of us survived the horrific event and we only have minor cuts and bruises. We also became closer friends and usually celebrate that eventful day and consider that our second birthdays.

What advice would you give to other travellers to avoid or survive the situation?

Always trust your instinct. If you feel that it will never be a safe journey, then, it probably is. Always observe the situation of the sea and also heed the advice of the locals. It always pays to be cautious in the long run.

Also, never take small things for granted like ensuring that there are life vests even if you know how to swim.

And most importantly, never panic and always have presence of mind in every difficult situation that you will encounter.

Travel Safety advice from the World Nomads Safety Hub

What an incredible story - you are so lucky to be able to tell it!

So right about the life-vests, it is VITAL that you make sure boats have them. Even if you are Ian Thorpe after 45 minutes in the water things can get a little fatiguing and if you don't have protection then you are vulnerable to the worst.

Be especially careful when going out in the water, make sure you go for a licensed operator (as they have to adhere to specific safety standards) with qualified and experienced staff - It's very easy to say this in hindsight, and sometimes you never know which way things can go, but if you wind up with a bad operator then you are only adding to your risk. Do a little bit of research before you embark on your trip and you'll do yourself a favour.

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Tags: asia, boat accident, boating, journey, philliipines, terrifying travel tales, travel, water sports

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