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Fiji Time: 1:10 AM on Thursday 31 July

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To hell and back

Shalveen Chand
Thursday, May 22, 2014

FOR 19-year-old Waisea Rogoyawa of Lakeba in Lau, his 37-hour sea ordeal when he drifted with the currents and finally hit the same reef he drifted from was like going to hell and back.

This misadventure occurred Monday last week when Rogoyawa was fishing inside the reef at 3pm.

"I saw somebody, waving to me and it looked to me as if someone was drowning," said Rogoyawa.

"I did what anybody would have done. I untied the rope attaching me to my life raft and I swam into the open sea to save whoever this person was.

"When I reached the spot where I thought I saw a man drowning, there was nobody and I realised that my swim into the deep blue was a mistake."

The mistake was bigger than he had thought at the time.

His attempts to return inside the shelter of the reef was denied by the strong sea currents present in the Lau Group.

"I struggled to get back, after a while, I just let go.

"I thought to myself, that I should not tire myself, so I just put went into a position where I could float and I just drifted with the currents," Waisea said.

"I drifted all of Monday night. Nothing happened. I had my spear with me and I thought to myself that I should not to be afraid to use it.

"I drifted with the currents into the next day, I could feel I was around Nayau that day. Until now, I had nothing to eat nor to drink."

Later in the evening when it was dark, Waisea could feel his legs giving up.

"It was late at night, and I could not feel my legs. I don't think I could move them, but I had been able to be in a position where I could still stay afloat," said Waisea.

"A few hours later, I touched a reef. I didn't know where I was but I could see torchlight, it was two boys looking for beche-de-mer.

"I shouted but nothing came out, so I started splashing the water and the two boys came to me.

"I recognised them and so did they and they called the village elders including my father."

Waisea spent the next two days in hospital. He was dehydrated still in a daze, not sure he was still on land as he felt he was still bobbing at sea.

"Whenever I lay down to sleep, I would start swimming or assuming the floating position," Waisea said.

"That's all over now and I am looking forward to school."

The vocational student in Lakeba had a tough time out at sea.

Some would not venture back to sea after such an ordeal. Not Waisea.

He maintains he was never afraid and he still isn't.

The sea still beckons for this island boy.


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