Narapela dai mi bai kam klostu dai pinis by bobfoto

Narapela dai mi bai kam klostu dai pinis

The day started off like any other. Just read yesterday's story for how I got moving from Arawa back to Buka and I was safely back at the Kuri Resort in downtown Buka. I grabbed a bite to eat and then set out to download some photos, write a few reports and send a few emails.

After some time, I felt the need to get out and stretch my legs after being cooped up in a car and behind the desk for so long. I had heard that at the end of the Airport, at one end of the runway one could find a Japanese Zero Fighter Plane submerged in only 2 metres of water, I also heard that someone had floated it and taken it away. I thought that would be a great way to break up the day, so I grabbed a guide, and we jumped into a Van and scooted across town. We asked the Van driver to drop us off here, at this reef.

I took a photo.

Now guides in Papua New Guinea have a couple of jobs, one is to keep you as safe as possible from raskols and the other is to keep you from getting lost. I kept forgetting that PNGeans are traditionally not great swimmers and I assumed that water sports would be pretty safe with my fit looking athletic young friend. I mean, he was the local poster boy for Digicel Mobile Phones, I even took a photo of him standing in front of his larger than life billboard in the main street of town.

I mean, what could possibly go wrong? Its only water. It is only a 2 metre drop off. The second strongest ocean current is only 500 metres off to the right.

We walked across this very shallow reef, trying to avoid the coral and walking on the sandy bits. It was just over ankle deep, by the time we got to the edge, a small wave splashed onto the top of the reef and I thought "cool, the tide is coming in".

The ocean looked peaceful enough, off to the left some 500 metres was a sandy beach and off to the right was Buka Passage. I could see the current was moving in that direction. I handed my bilum, and my reef sandals to my Guide, and put on my flippers and snorkel and hopped on in.

The first thing I noticed was it was not a 2 metre drop off, more akin to 60 metres, and the second thing I noticed was the current. Ok, stay close to the reef. I could feel the current swelling upwards towards the reef and then pulling back down the drop off, up towards and then back down. This was the incoming tide. And it was pulling a little towards Buka Passage.

I kept a hold of the reef and looked below, no sign of any plane down there in the depths, and no sign nearby of any shallower water. My heart rate was increasing as I was starting to get moved around by the tide. I looked up. My guide was wandering around looking at the reef, but he was already 100 metres away or so.

I was drifting.

My heart rate increased.

Then a small swell picked me up and using my flippers as a rudder, the swell lifted me up and onto the reef. The swell lost its energy, plonked me on top of the reef, and then the water rushed back out to the deeper water, dragging me (using my flippers again as a rudder) back out into the current.

The swell came again, and once more put me on top of the reef, and then dragged me once again out into the deeper water. Each time, I was being cheese-grated across the top of the reef. I was losing skin from my knees, my hands and my elbows as I desperately tried to keep my head above water. My heart was racing.

I needed to stop this cycle and I needed to get my flippers off.

The wave came again, onto the reef and off the reef, back deeper into the depths. And again, onto the reef and off the reef. I could see my blood in the water. I was desperate, I tried to grab onto the reef, but my bloodied hands were getting weak, I was getting exhausted, I was not breathing properly. My mask and my snorkel had been torn off my face and I was swallowing salt water. I opened my eyes, my guide was miles away. Another wave came, and this time, I rolled over the reef and tried to sit up so I could remove my evil flippers. The outgoing wave dragged me across the reef, my shoulder blades, my buttocks, my legs all losing skin. There was blood everywhere. I held onto the reef with one hand and ripped my flippers off. The tide was coming in now.

Another wave tossed me around, but at least I was not going back out to sea each time. I knelt on the reef, weakly I got to my feet, I was crushing the reef with each stumble, each step. Sea Urchins were breaking off inside my flesh. I was a mess.

My guide came to me with a sorry look. I put on my t-shirt, and used my towel to clean up the blood. Everything was bleeding. I started to stagger back towards the road.

I no longer cared.

The road hurt my feet so we chose to walk back along the edge of the beach, in the sand, my feet were bleeding, my legs were bleeding, my knees were bleeding, my buttocks was bleeding, my shoulder blades were bleeding, my elbows were bleeding. My hands were a mess.

The first village we came to is right on the edge of Buka Town, kids came running out to see the white guy and then stopped, their smiles disappearing from their faces as they saw the bloodied mess stumbling towards them.

I rested under a coconut tree, near an old busted banana boat. My heart was slowing down now, but the adrenalin was still racing. I needed medical attention, or at least a Pharmacy.

We continued our march back to Buka and the stares from the children continued. We made it back into town and on the mainstreet I stumbled into a Pharmacy. The gorgeous staff with their bright white uniforms looked horrified as I walked into their store. They quickly assembled some gauze, some tape, some antiseptic all together and I paid for my items. As I walked out, I noticed my bloody footsteps on their tiles and I apologised. One young girl already had a mop.

I walked out onto the street again and across town. The stares continued as the bloodied white guy with the long hair and bilum staggered slowly through their streets. Eventually I made it back to the Kuri Resort. I showered, poured antiseptic on everything, bandaged a few things together, laid down on the bed and passed out.

To be continued.

Photo taken 8 August 2008. Title reads: Another day I nearly died.
Gorgeous reflections!
August 12th, 2012  
@rwhite - Thanks Rosie. It was a very pretty spot.
August 12th, 2012  
Wow. MY heart was racing reading that. I used to scuba dive...not sure if I ever will again...but anyway. That had to be so terrifying! I was scared when I learned to dive, but then relaxed a bit, because I was like "middle aged and elderly people do it, so I can." Then I realized they were most always doing the super shallow with a resort guide type dives..not 100 foot bridge span and wreck dives. I have felt the helpless dread of getting in current....ugh. I am glad you made it out alive. All that horror and drama under that gorgeous surface in your photo!
August 12th, 2012  
@espyetta - One reason why I never learnt to Scuba Dive was because I would often get myself into trouble simply snorkelling. I am not a strong swimmer, and on this day, I was way in over my head.
August 12th, 2012  
Gorgeous photo but that story was rough. Hope the second part of the story is brighter.
August 12th, 2012  
@chriswang - This was with my underwater point and shoot, and only every now and then did it come up with the goods. As you will see on Wednesday. ;)
August 12th, 2012  
that sounded both terrifying and exciting, and you are so lucky.
August 12th, 2012  
Oh god! That story made shudder. I am so glad you got out of there in one piece. Thanks for sharing.
August 12th, 2012  
@bobfoto I think it seems scarier to snorkel...at least with scuba, you usually get under alot of the currents...we did anyway. But then you have that "you cannot just come to the surface thing" if you had an emergency. We wear/wore pony tanks just in case, so I felt pretty good about that. My husband is an Eagle scout. Can you tell? LOL
August 12th, 2012  
Wonderful shot! But what a scary, harrowing experience!
August 12th, 2012  
Jason,you should write a book about your escapades....don't know about acat having nine lives,I think you must have,too!! Love this shot,wonderful reflections!!
August 12th, 2012  
Oh Jason... what are you like.. Beautiful shot of a pretty horrid experience
August 12th, 2012  
Beautiful colours and amazing reflection. Lucky escape there.
August 12th, 2012  
beautiful photo Jason sorry to have read about your experience hope this Fav will make up for It : - )
August 12th, 2012  
Well....at least you got a great photo. Some would say the moral of this story is to know your surroundings, to know the danger signs of coastal tides, to always be prepared for any emergency...yada yada yada....and maybe some boyscout stuff thrown in. I say the moral here is....the camera survived
August 12th, 2012  
TC
Great photo...what a stark contrast to the story behind it! My heart is still racing : ?
Glad you survived that ordeal!
August 12th, 2012  
holy moley
August 12th, 2012  
The reflections are gorgeous and calm belying the ferocity of the ocean. Stunning shot that inspires respect when teamed with the story.
August 12th, 2012  
@houdiniem that about says it all.
In a good way for the pic
And in a scary way for the story.
August 12th, 2012  
You amaze me, such a great reflection!
August 12th, 2012  
Ek
Great photo - but Wow, what a story...
August 13th, 2012  
Beautiful
August 13th, 2012  
What photo ?? Got so taken by the story I forgot to look at it.
Nice sky, reflection and clouds. gripping story.
August 13th, 2012  
I had to keep going back t o look at that peaceful blue and white photo every couple of sentences.
August 13th, 2012  
Nice Glassy reflection!!
August 13th, 2012  
Looks like a magical day
August 13th, 2012  
What a terrifying experience - beautiful photo though.
August 13th, 2012  
@cookie123 - mostly terrifying.

@traeumerlein - So am I Lisa, so am I!

@espyetta - I have had others say the same thing re: snorkel vis a vis scuba, but I dunno. Like to at least no where the surface is... kinda.

@myautofocuslife - Thanks Livia :)

@carolmw - Carol, in my life, I have drowned twice, been visited underwater by sharks including a Great White and have had this reef event happen to me. I think it might be time to stick to Terra Firma?

@michelleyoung - It is the conundrum that is PNG.

@dalboy - I was hoping Father Austin and his mate upstairs were keeping an eye out for me?

@gerry - Thanks Gerry, and thank you for the fave :)

@losthorizon - Good ol' underwater camera... it can take a fair few knocks!

@tctime - Thank you TC, thanks :)

@houdiniem - or as we sound down under Hooley Dooley.

@hasselhotch - Thanks David H, I was lulled into a confidence bordering on aloofness.

@tigerdreamer - Cheers Karen H :)

@httpgeffed - Thanks Colleen. :D

@ekvenin - Hey Cheers Ek, I won't be trying to find that plane again in a hurry.... or will I???

@mandyj92 - 'tis a pretty shot, thanks Amanda.

@tonydebont @swilde - Thanks Guys, I had to "to be continue" the story for fear of just rambling on too much... tomorrow's middle chapter I guess makes this saga the "Lord of the Rings" series in 365 land????

@summitnsmile - Thanks Mark.

@rach_who - Cheers Rach.

@kjarn - Thanks Kathy A... I think I can work out who clicked on the thumbnail and read the story compared to those who just saw the thumb in the feed. :D
August 13th, 2012  
I just googled this wreck and found some interesting pictures including one website which has an underwater picture of a plane wreck by one Jason Daniels! Thanks for sharing this it has been fascinating to look into further.
August 13th, 2012  
what an adventure I'd give it try despite the blood letting
August 13th, 2012  
Darn it Daniels.... I saw the photo and thought '*relief* ah the beautiful side of PNG strikes back' - nothing warned me about the blood!!
What a hideous experience - so glad you came 'round eventually! (And found a pharmacy!) Still a beautiful view.... :)
August 13th, 2012  
@hasselhotch - David H, you have pinched some of my thunder... that shot is coming up! ;) I wish I had checked out that site before I went for my swim!
August 13th, 2012  
@steeler - Better news in 2 days time.... ;)
August 13th, 2012  
@filsie65 - I found a Doctor and a cute Nurse too, but that's for tomorrow's story....
August 13th, 2012  
This is awesome. Like an infinity pool
August 13th, 2012  
@abhijit - It kinda looked like that, until I jumped in eh?
August 13th, 2012  
perfect.
August 13th, 2012  
and I'm sorry that happened to you sir. I would have been terrified. looking forward to the continuation of your story..
August 13th, 2012  
@luvthyclassics - Oh Jesse, I am so glad I survived. Still had stuff to do and see and photograph eh?
August 14th, 2012  
I must have missed this one. I saw today's first, started to read, and thought....what the hell happened yesterday? So now I can move onto today's. That must have been so frightening, a less strong person may not have been able to tell this story!
August 14th, 2012  
Oh, and great reflection photo......
August 14th, 2012  
I also saw todays upload before this and had to go back and read. What a horrifying experience, now I know what I prefer dry land! I would have been expecting sharks every second! Glad you survived and the tale can continue.
August 14th, 2012  
Gorgeous shot - terrifying story!
August 15th, 2012  
@onie - Thank you Leonie, thanks.

@judithdeacon - Oh I do prefer dry land myself!

@cmuir1963 - Thanks Cindy and yes.
August 16th, 2012  
Fatastic photo and very scary story. I was feeling your pain just reading about the reef. I took some photos of Japanese Zero's a few weeks back as they had a "Tora Tora Tora" reenactment of Pearl Harbor at an air show in Oshkosh, WI. Hard to believe they are still flying.
August 17th, 2012  
@boatpainter - Thanks Janet, it is great to see some of the old WW2 Warbirds in the air still!
August 17th, 2012  
Amazing you survived Jason, my heart was racing and my knees, and feet and hands and... were all hurting with every description. Like Sue, once I got involved in your story, I forgot what your picture was. Great shot, so peaceful considering the near hell you went through. Glad you are safe
August 18th, 2012  
What a stunning pic with such a horrid storey! One is really so powerless against the ocean currents.
August 18th, 2012  
@dora @leananiemand - Thank you Dora and Leana, I think this photo and story is typical of PNG, such serenity and peace, yet there is a turbulence just beyond sight...
August 18th, 2012  
Your stories are just incredible, you should write a book because I'd go out and buy it...most importantly, I would actually read hehe. You capture the most beautiful places and you're just awesome!
August 20th, 2012  
@anotherdreamer - Thanks, that is really sweet of you and I appreciate your kind words. A book is certainly a grand idea!
August 21st, 2012  
Such a contrast between this shot and your personal experience told here. Beautiful shot, horrific exprience
August 21st, 2012  
@yrhenwr - Cheers David, thank you.
August 21st, 2012  
jd.. oh my! such a beautiful shot and then? a story about a battle between life and death! glad you´re still here to tell your stories! :)
August 23rd, 2012  
@agentzuckerguss - guess what? So am I!!! ;)
August 24th, 2012  
OUCH! I love the ocean, but yes, currents and being thrown on reefs like that, one of my worst fears. Aren't sea urchins a bit poisonous in their spines, or is it that they're just sharp? I can't remember. Too long away from the ocean I suppose.
September 15th, 2012  
@hellcat - some can be poisonous, but they are prone to infection. :(
September 15th, 2012  
:( suck
September 16th, 2012  
@hellcat - Big time.
September 16th, 2012  
this was especially gripping even though i knew you'd get out of it alive, it was still a heart-stopping tale. glad you came out okay (well, considering what might have been). peddle the book to the publishers already!
October 19th, 2013  
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