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Three ships passed them by

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, March 3, 2009) – Three people, who have been drifting at sea for eight days between East and West New Britain provinces, were found safe but dehydrated.

The skipper of the boat and his crew are currently at Nonga Base Hospital in Rabaul receiving medical attention after being referred from the Livuan Day Clinic last evening, while their only passenger, a student from Kambubu Adventist College, was dropped off at Ramandu in the Lassul area with relatives.

The speedboat which had left Bialla on Feb 20 was expected to arrive in Rabaul the same day but failed to do so.

It was not until a week later that they were rescued by a fishing team from Ramandu last Saturday evening on an isolated island off the Lassul area.

According to the skipper, Nelson Ase from Duke of York islands, they left Navo in the Bialla district about 8am and stopped briefly at Ulamona before heading out to sea.

About midday, they encountered bad weather which caused them to lose course between Open Bay and Takis.

Mr. Ase said they drifted out to the open sea and were exposed to continuous rain, wind, thunderstorm and the burning heat until eight days later when they paddled successfully to an inhabited island where they were found the same day.

Ase said they had survived on coconuts which they had found floating in the sea and drank water captured using a canvas they had on board.

He said they had tried in vain to catch the attention of three different ships which had passed them on different occasions during their ordeal.

"We continuously prayed to God for rescue and one week into our ordeal, we cried out to God saying we were not birds to be left out at sea and that God should send us back to land," Ase said

He said the next day, a strong wind developed, enabling them to put up a sail using a canvas and the wind took them to a rocky island where they tied their boat for the day.

The next day they paddled to the other side of the island where they sighted another island.

Crew member Kenis Marum said that they decided to paddle to the next island because it was their only hope.

Mr. Marum said as they neared the island, bad weather developed again but they continued paddling until they were found and rescued t

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