On Monday a guy called Rob Hewitt came to visit us. He was lost at sea near Kapiti for three nights and four days. He battled loneliness, a shark, the cold sea, the dark night, exhaustion and dehydration. I thought he had a lot of courage and determination to live. He told us his story and I put it into my own words.
NEVER DIVE ALONE. Ex- navel officer Rob Hewitt learnt this the hard way when he was out diving for crayfish with his mates. It was the final dive of the day and things weren’t going too well for Rob, he was the only one that hadn’t caught a crayfish. Determined to catch one, when his diving partner had a problem and needed to resurface, Rob continued to descend. When he got down there, he saw a crayfish. He tried to grab it but, it scuttled away too fast. His attention completely focused on chasing the crayfish, Rob didn’t realise the changing water temperature. He grabbed for the crayfish and got it. He also picked up a couple of Kina as well. Satisfied with his catch he was about to resurface when a fast moving underwater current caught him and carried him out to sea.
Finally emerging again, Rob looked around. The boat was at least six hundred Metres away. He swam towards it yelling and shouting but he didn’t seem to be making any ground. He stopped and waved his catch bag but nothing came or noticed him. His heart sank to the bottom of the sea when he realised he was alone. Meanwhile, his mates realised he was gone and alerted the coastguards there was about five boats out looking for him. Looking in the wrong places.
Five hours of being lost at sea and a helicopter flew by. Waving his catch bag and yelling again, Rob attempted to get their attention. He saw the the helicopter drift further and further away. This was the first opportunity of being rescued and the ‘copter flew by. The feeling of despair began to set in as the sun went down. Rob had never heard of anyone surviving the night stranded in the middle of the ocean.
The first rays of light blinded rob as they penetrated through the light clouds. He was relieved to see it was going to be a nice day. Knowing that a lot of people die from loneliness and isolation when they are stranded, Rob began to befriend his crayfish. He called it Tama, meaning boy, son. Sadly for Tama, Rob had to eat him to stay alive. His feast would give him an extra boost. That night he saw another offshore island (KapitiIsland) and thought he was saved, but he was on the rough side and had no chance of making land. He decided to carry on.
The next day he saw a shark, he heart began to pound even though he was trying to focus on keeping it still. Rob though the shark would feel the vibrations and attack. He was easy prey after all. He pulled out his small knife and thought that if he saw it again he would lunge and kill it. The night again took over the day and Rob; left paranoid lunged and thrashed at any sound he heard.
Rob was ready to give up as the sun appeared again in the sky. It was day four and there was no sign of rescue since the first day. Tired and exhausted he didn’t notice the current change, it was now pulling him back to the dive spot. He rolled face down in the sea trying to drown himself. A loud hum of an engine made him turn over and look. He thought he was hallucinating but his mates had found him and threw him a life ring. “Just look at me Rob” one said ” Keep looking at me.”
Here is the episode of I shouldn’t be alive that featured Rob’s story: