A MUM feared she and her kids were going to be eaten by sharks after their dream dive trip turned into a nightmare.
Justine Clark and her two sons, Felix, 18, and Max, 20, were abandoned in the middle of the ocean while diving during a seven-day holiday with Captain Cook Cruises.
An Australian family recalled their harrowing ordeal after being stranded in the middle of the ocean[/caption]
Justine Clark, and her sons were on a seven-day cruise when they went diving[/caption]
The mum feared they were going to be eaten by sharks[/caption]
The trio, from Newcastle in Australia, had booked the afternoon dive off the coast of Fiji for August 14 while on the cruise of the South Pacific.
As they were heading out to offshore dive site, the weather turned but the group continued with their plans.
She told MailOnline: “We travelled into an approaching storm and out in open waters in what appeared to be a large channel about 20 kilometres from any island.
After a 40 minute drift dive, Justine and her eldest son swam up to the top, but were horrified to find themselves alone.
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Justine said: “No tender boat was visible on surfacing, the swell was two metres, it was dark with grey clouds and high wind.”
The divemaster came to the surface next and couldn’t believe the situation.
She said: “He was shocked at the events and stated this had never happened in his 27 years of diving.”
He told the group to start swimming towards an island some 10 to 15 kilometres in the distance.
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Confident she could make the swim, Justine said she was prepared to drag her boys for some of the way to the beach if she had to.
But surviving the open waters meant she had to consider more than just the distance.
She said: “I can’t impress how concerned I was for everyone’s health [and about] sharks… I had to reach the island in a calm manner.”
After paddling through the water for 40 minutes, the group were relieved to see a boat heading toward them.
A garbage collector had been at a nearby island picking up rubbish when he noticed on of the diver’s buoys.
The tender boat eventually made its way over to the group, prompting an apology from the driver.
She explained: “He apologised and told me he was so scared and he had radioed the captain that he lost us.”
Justine says the captain of the cruise could offer no explanation as to how the event was able to happen but wants the safety procedures to be reviewed.
She said: “I have no desire to damage the tourism of the area and lives of the local Fijians dependent upon this trade.
“However, Captain Cook Cruises should be applying safety standards consistent for such sea emergencies in the countries they operate outside Australia.”
Captain Cook Cruises told ABC the tender boat had blown away from the dive site.
They said the surface conditions had made it tough for the boat’s driver to follow the bubbles from the diver’s below.
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A full investigation was launched into the incident and safety procedures have been changed as a result.
She said: “We travelled back to the cruise ship in the rain and cold wind but joyous to have been saved.”