IT was a sea ordeal lasting about 24 hours for a teenager who had been carried out to sea by the strong tides.
Waisea Rogoyawa, 19, had taken his metre-long life raft to fish inside the reef on Monday afternoon but tragedy struck in a very strange manner.
Waisea's father, Mesake Rogoyawa, said his son was at the reef when he thought he saw someone drowning outside the reef.
"Waisea then swam out to save this drowning person, but as he got closer he realised, there was nobody," Mr Rogoyawa said.
"As Waisea tried to swim back, the strong waves and tide pushed him out to sea. He didn't struggle and instead drifted with the tide.
"Waisea drifted as far as Nayau and then finally drifted back to Lakeba. He is now in the Lakeba Hospital."
Mr Rogoyawa said his son was having nightmares.
"He still thinks he is still out at sea, so he is having a hard time sleeping. Hopefully he recovers soon," he said.
"It was a very distressful time for the family. I was searching for him, his mother was very tearful.
"We had thought that we lost our son because, nobody had survived at sea missing for this long."
Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said Waisea's family reported him missing at the Lakeba Police Station and search was conducted with a group of youths from a nearby village.
"The search was later called off due to rough seas," he said.
"The victim was found ashore 24 hours after he was reported missing and is being treated at Lakeba Rural Hospital for dehydration.
"People going out at sea should be mindful of the weather and follow safety measures at all times."
He said people should take heed of the weather warning before they go out to sea and ensured they had safety devices they could use in case of any emergency.