Australian authorities are investigating a recent incident in which a Great Barrier Reef dive boat accidentally left behind a U.S. snorkeler, forcing him to swim to another boat.
Ian Cole...said the Passions of Paradise tour boat took off without him Saturday on Michaelmas Cay near Cairns.
Cole, who was given a $200 restaurant voucher as compensation by the tour company, said he feared he would drown in a scenario reminiscent of the 1998 case of abandoned American scuba divers Tom and Eileen Lonergan off nearby Port Douglas - an incident that inspired the film Open Water.
"Panic kicks in, your heart rate goes up, and you don't know what's going to happen. I was sucking water back into my snorkel and was really trying hard to stay calm," Cole told the Sydney Morning Herald.
''When I got to the other boat they looked down like 'what the hell are you doing here?' They said my boat had left 15 minutes ago. I thought they were joking.''
Though I enjoy snorkeling close to shore, I would be "on edge" to take a dive boat into the ocean for a swim.
My personal safety precaution would be to insist that a rope be tied to my leg with the other end securely fastened to the boat captain's leg.
In essence, the boat and captain are not leaving that area without me dragging him into the water.
Also in the article about Mr. Cole's swim, a representative from the marine park tourism operators accused Mr. Cole of embellishing the dangers involved in the incident and offered this gem:
...told the Herald that Cole was "making a mountain out of a molehill," dismissing his ordeal as no worse than "being left behind at a beach."
Yeah, a beach on a DESERTED ISLAND that features predators and an occasional ship passing--a ship with a crew not expecting to see a human being swimming for help.