"TA, taru qalo va'a ga i vanua, ua ni yalo lailai (Dad, let's swim together to shore, don't give up)."
These were the words of 18-year-old Taniela Baleiwai as he swam beside his dad, fighting off huge waves that struck and damaged their fishing boat in open waters off Macuata last Wednesday night.
Taniela and his dad, Sanaila Nayaca, survived a six-hour ordeal through rough seas.
They started swimming from 5pm in search of land and prayed for divine intervention as they searched their way in the dark.
The pair, from Nakalou Village, left shore at 9am on their monthly fishing trip to help pay for their rent in Labasa.
They were thrown into the water when strong wind caused their boat to capsize.
Labelled a real-life hero in his community, Taniela's determination made him swim back three times for his dad who was feeling tired and could no longer keep up with his son.
Taniela said the thought of losing his father at sea gave him strength and motivated him to save their lives.
Mr Nayaca, a Oneness Church pastor, said they left the village on Wednesday morning under ideal weather conditions.
He said it was after mid-day when they began to experience strong wind.
"It was 5pm when we decided to head home. It was getting dark and we could hardly see our way," he said.
"Water had started to enter our boat. While operating the boat engine and also removing water out of the vessel, I suddenly lost control of the boat engine when big waves overturned the boat."
He said they had no choice but to sacrifice their catch and equipment, say a prayer and swim ashore for their lives.
"After swimming for a few miles, we decided to swim back to the boat to get two gallons and our torch to help us," he said.
Pastor Nayaca said they swam for about two hours when his body started to give up.
"I told my son to swim ahead and get help from the villagers but after he left, he swam back three times to me and encouraged me to be strong so we could overcome the ordeal together," he said.
"We kept swimming until we reached shore near Naividamu Village at about 11pm. We rested for a while and then started walking to the village. We felt dizzy and our feet were numb."
His wife, Siliva Nayaca, said it was a miracle she was able to spend Father's Day with her husband and son over the weekend.
Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri advised mariners to take heed of weather advice before going to sea. "We are reiterating the need for people to adhere to weather warnings to prevent such incidents from happening," Insp Sokomuri said.