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The BBC's Giles Latcham
"It was supposed to be a pleasure trip"
 real 56k

Friday, 16 February, 2001, 09:54 GMT
Text tourists rescue themselves
The tourists safe on land
The tourists thought they were going to die
A group of 14 tourists, including several Britons, are back on dry land after two frightening days stranded at sea near Bali.

The Britons and two New Zealanders made their own way to shore early on Friday morning after a night bailing water from their vessel.

Four Britons from the party had already paddled to shore on surfboards on Thursday. The Indonesian crew is also safe.

The water was coming in below and there was a smell of petrol. We definitely thought that was it

Rebecca Fyfe
The alarm was first raised on Wednesday when Rebecca Fyfe, a 19-year-old from Ayrshire, sent a mayday text message from her mobile phone to her boyfriend in England.

But despite her message rescuers were unable to reach the stranded tourists, trapped in the rough seas of the notorious Lombok Strait.

In the last hours of their ordeal the fragile 23-metre craft began breaking up and the group spent hours bailing out water.

Incredibly, Matthew Smith who had paddled to shore on Thursday, found himself back on the boat and fearing for his life that night.

He had contacted local police and paddled back to his friends to tell them rescue was imminent.

Matthew Smith
Matthew Smith returned to the boat
But soon after the seas rose again and the naval vessel was unable to carry out the rescue.

Mr Smith told BBC News 24: "That last night was the worst point of the whole 48 hours.

"We were taking on water so we were bailing for most of the night.

"I was back on the boat and wondering why I was there. It was definitely the scariest moment of my life."

Miss Fyfe, whose text message to boyfriend Nick Hodgson was picked up at 0220GMT on Wednesday, could not have known it would be days more before she reached safety.

On reading her message: "Call Falmouth Coastguard, we need help - SOS", Mr Hodgson, 23, contacted Thames Coastguard who informed colleagues in Falmouth.

Rebecca Fyfe still stranded at sea after SOS call on her mobile
Rebecca Fyfe first raised the alarm
The message was passed to coastguards in Australia and then to the Indonesian authorities.

Ms Fyfe, speaking from the Holiday Inn in Lombok on Friday, said she was convinced they would die at sea.

"We were all terrified. It was unbelievable what we went through.

"The boat nearly turned over at one point. The crew on board started praying.

"The water was coming in below and there was a smell of petrol. We definitely thought that was it."

But at first light on Friday, the wind dropped and the sea calmed.

Tribute to the crew

Those on board either scrambled into the 'tender', a small boat attached to their vessel, or clambered onto surfboards to make their own way ashore.

Ms Fyfe paid tribute to the Indonesian crew, who managed to keep the tourists supplied with food.

She has now spoken to her boyfriend and emailed her parents, who are holidaying in Mexico, to ask them to call her.

The boat had run into difficulties in the Lombok Straits between Bali and Lombok as it was travelling between Sangigi and Mataram.

Pictured above are some of the tourists now safely on shore (Bottom row from left): Matthew Perry, Richard Eaton and Marcus Whitney; top row from left: Joanne Phillips, Rebecca Fyfe, Hannah Gaisford, Matthew Smith, Ben Lewis, and Oliver Vetter.

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See also:

16 Feb 01 | Scotland
Holidaymakers surf to safety
02 Sep 99 | Northern Ireland
Women dial for helicopter rescue
04 Sep 99 | Scotland
Coastguard mission crosses continent
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