A female scuba diver who was separated from her dive-boat off the South African coast rode the currents for five hours over some 10 nautical miles to make it ashore – then walked several kilometres to let her family know she was safe.
The Johannesburg woman, described as in her 50s, had last been seen at around 8.30am on 24 February during a boat-dive some three nautical miles off Hibberdene on KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast. Her husband and two sons had been on the group dive with her.
The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) responded to an emergency call from the dive charter-boat, the crew of which had begun carrying out a search. It launched a major air-sea search operation, which included fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters.
At around 2 in the afternoon the diver’s husband received a call on his mobile phone to say that his wife had made her way to shore half an hour earlier, and had walked several kilometres to find a house, where she had asked if she could make a call. The dive-charter operator took the husband to the location and brought the diver back to its centre, reporting that she was fatigued but uninjured.
The NSRI commended the unnamed diver for staying calm and gradually using currents to make it safely to the shore. It also commended the dive operator and all the rescuers involved for their rapid response.