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July 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 33, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Reminiscing about Being Adrift at Sea

two divers lucky to have made it

from the July, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Each year on April 20, New Zealand divers Garry Ham and Kevin Sim get together for a few drinks and fish and chips. This year, for the 21st time, the two met up again, reminiscing about the time they survived 27 hours floating in the Cook Strait.

It was an ordinary morning on April 20, 1997, when they hit the water. The sun was shining, and the conditions in the Queen Charlotte Sound were optimal for catching crayfish.

Ham was one of the first of 10 divers off the boat, armed with a bag to store his catch. It seemed like an ordinary dive. He caught some crays and lost sight of his dive buddy. Nothing unusual. After half an hour, when he realized he was running low on air, he signaled to Sim that he was heading up. But as the pair reached the surface, they realized a tidal rip had dragged them about 50 meters from the boat.

"You just carry on floating . . . there's not much you can do."

Sim blew up his safety sausage to get the attention of the boat crew, but the sun was shining directly at their target, limiting visibility. "As far as we could see, no one could see us," Ham said....

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