Adrift at Sea: When A Dream Vacation Turns Into A Nightmare!

It is amazing to look back and think on certain moments of your dream trip or that vacation where things could have gone from Oh-so-Perfect to a complete nightmare! I had one such experience not a long time ago when I hitchhiked and planned to kill the driver. Well that turned out to be a funny incident but this time what i have is a shocking true story that will make you think and rethink about those times when it could have gone either ways for you. So if you are an ardent follower of Bohotraveller, you would know that my sojourn with the spectacular Maldives has been going on for quite a few months now (yeah i guess I am lucky!). Last November I woke up to a news that a couple had gone missing from a five Star Resort here, called Adaaran Prestige Vadoo. Now the fact that this resort is built on a super tiny Island and has only Ocean villas could help anyone guess that the guests probably went into the sea and for some unknown reasons, never came back. A full-fledged rescue was launched to find them and here is the complete story from rescuers as well as ground zero! I went to beautiful Adaaran Prestige Vadoo in the month of January and had the opportunity to talk to the wonderful staff who gave us the details.

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A Maldivian Ocean Villa.... where the story begins

Bird's eye view of the property

Bird's eye view of the property

So the Chinese Couple, a 24 years old woman and 38 years old man were the guests in one of the sunset villas of Adaaran Prestige. These villas have their sundecks opening towards the vast oceanic expanse. They afford complete privacy to those who seek some quiet and private time. It is quite amazing how one can just walk down the stairs from the room and snorkel in the waters that have such a beautiful aquatic life. But caution is something one should not throw in the wind here because the sea has a mild current that can be tricky to negotiate. There are cautionary boards everywhere and should be paid attention to. The guests decided to get a transparent seabed and spend some time sunbathing in the sea behind the villa. Adaaran appoints a butler for every room and since their villas are over the Ocean, one has to depend on the butler so guests would invariably call their butler quite a few times in the day. Also, the island is small so it is easy to locate and see people. If you are not seen, it is easy to miss you! Cut to evening, when the staff came to check they realized the room was locked but there seemed to be no one inside. Just to be sure, they knocked and found something super fishy about the whole scenario. The guests were indeed MISSING! The neighboring guests confirmed that they had last seen the couple playing in the water on an inflatable sunbed during the afternoon.

To The Rescue

Air Rescue

Air Rescue

As soon as it was established that the guests were indeed missing and adrift at sea, resort contacted authorities. The Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) began a full-scale rescue operation. The biggest challenge of the hour was that it was already night, about 2100 hours and the Maldives had experienced showers the previous days so the sea was not as calm as it usually is. Other resorts, water activity operators and boats in the vicinity were also informed about the missing tourists. The night passed without anyone finding any trace of the couple. As morning arrived, more speedboats were deployed and air monitoring was launched from Kaddhoo island which is home to an aviation unit of MNDF. Certain co-ordinates were zeroed in and the search resumed there. With each passing hour, the chances of rescuing the tourists and more than that the chances of finding them alive were dipping. Good thing was that they were on a sunbed and bad part was that they were without food or water. The weather was clear in the morning and finally 17 hours later and about 12 miles away from the resort, both the guests were spotted, still floating on the sunbed but horribly dehydrated and verging on hypothermia.

The behind-the-Curtain Story

After the rescue, they were immediately rushed to a well-known hospital in the capital city of Male'. They were later discharged after administering basic treatment and returned to the resort. Now what really happened and how come they managed to drift away in broad daylight without getting noticed? Their story is what is astonishing and quite unbelievable. So it seems they propped themselves on the floating sunbed which obviously kept moving and drifting on the water. Now they did not think it was too serious until they could see the resort only at a distance nearing the horizon. The horror added when they realized that no one could hear their screams. Unfortunately, there was no marine traffic around them in spite of two more resorts at islands being nearby. Finally, it was only endless ocean around them and no help. Theirs is a story from a "disaster holiday" Hollywood flick. The simplicity of this incident is what is horrifying! They were lucky in a lot of ways, one being that there was low wind intensity that day otherwise toppling off the sunbed would have been the first thing in open water. And that certainly would have been a death sentence because it took about 17 hours to rescue them and they did not have life jackets or life buoys with them. These tourists were lucky to have been rescued on time, A couple of hours more and hypothermia and dehydration would have taken over completely.

The drift and route taken by the sunbed Image Credits: MaldivesResortWorkers

We at Bohotraveller always emphasize on safety during travel. Being careful does not restrict the joy or fun quotient, it keeps you safe. Period. In this incident, only if the couple would have shouted for help a little earlier, they would not have had to go through the harrowing experience thereafter. Though this one makes for a great story to be told hereafter but remember, it was just the luck part of it that played a big role and got them alive! If you have been through a similar experience, do share your thoughts. Tell us what you think about travel safety and how you keep safe during your holidays! If you have a complete article on travel safety, we would love to host it, just get in touch with us on!

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