Fishermen Adrift for 15 hours and the Convenience of Grab Bags

Te Mataili
Te Mataili

Two middle-aged fisherman from Tuvalu spent 15 hours at sea trying many techniques that would save them from drifting too far from the island.

Semi Saaga and Foe Taalava went trolling offshore of Fuafatu, one of the Funafuti Islets, at 8 o’clock in the morning on the 28th February 2017.

The incident began at 4 pm when they departed to head back home. Their outboard motor propeller broke down as it was wound up by their fishing line while starting up the engine. They tried contacting help using their walkie talkie until 6pm without any response. Then they tried using a PLB (Personal Locater Beacon) device, which was part of the equipment in the “Grab Bag” donated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). The two men agreed to take turns on look-out for help as their boat started to adrift further out.

The two fishermen’s families reported their failure to return to the Police to look for the two fisherman late that  evening, but by then the Search and Rescue (SAR) team had received a message from New Zealand about the alert beacon and was already in action.

Te Mataili (Tuvalu’s  Patrol Boat) found the two fisherman 7.5 miles away from the island at 11pm.

Safely on land, one of the fishermen described the incident and explained how handy the Grab Bags are. He recommended that every fisherman should have one and use it on every fishing trip, just in case of the unexpected.