Sea ordeal leaves scars, brothers swim for 14 hours
THEY swam for almost 14 hours in search of help to save the lives of two friends who struggled to survive the rough waves.
Brothers Simeli Bukalidi, 24, and Waisale Tuqara, 23, were on the boat that drifted with Oreti Tabakau on April 11.
The three, originally of Nakalou Village in Macuata, were among five other villagers when the incident happened on the night of April 11.
Although Mr Tabakau was not at the village for an interview when The Fiji Times team visited, Mr Bukalidi said the greatest relief was having M Tabakau back after drifting for nine days.
In relaying the event, Mr Bukalidi said they fought against huge waves, drank seawater and hung onto empty gallons to survive the ordeal. They were surrounded by sharks as they waited on a reef for daybreak but earnest prayers, they believed, saw them through the night.
The group was heading towards Nasea Village when they stopped over at Namoli reef to pick sea slugs and catch some fish.
Mr Tabakau was told to sit in the boat while the other four jumped into the sea.
“We told him to follow us with the boat and this was around 11pm,” he said.
“The first time we surfaced, he was there and we told him to go ahead and wait for us a few metres from where we were collecting the sea slugs.
“The third time we surfaced, he was no where to be seen and we only saw the lights far away from us. I swam there but it was too far.”
So Simeli returned to the reef and the four men remained there until 5.30am on April 12.
“I told my brother for us to swim to Raviravi Village and we swam from 5.30am until 7pm at night when we reached the village.
“The other two villagers were swimming from behind and we alerted the villagers of Raviravi who then went out in the boat to get the two. They even went out to the deep seas to look for Oreti but he was gone.
“We will never forget what we went through because it scared us, especially being surrounded by sharks,” Mr Bukalidi said.
Source fijitimes Thursday, May 26, 2016