Four Americans and other members of a surfing expedition adrift in the Indian Ocean 11 days on a crippled boat were reunited Thursday with family and friends.
The Tirta Kencana washed ashore on the Indonesian island of Sumatra Wednesday with its 10 passengers - four Americans, two Australians and four Indonesians - alive and well.Barbara O'Hara, of Dana Point, Calif., cried when she embraced 23-year-old Troy Alotis, of Hawaii, her only son and the youngest American aboard the converted fishing craft, left adrift by engine failure Aug. 13 in the Sunda Strait, which separates the islands of Java and Sumatra.
"My worst fear was that he would never be found, that the boat would just drift and drift and drift," said O'Hara, who left her home Monday to help find her son.
"I vowed never to leave Indonesia until I had found him," she said.
Australian Ian Chapman, 27, of Sydney, who said he slept fitfully each night with a surfboard rope in one hand, thumbed through the pages of a diary he kept during the ordeal.
One entry read: "Breakfast - tea, lunch - juice, at night - a cracker. God save us."
The most joyous celebrants at a pre-dawn reunion on the most northerly beach on Java were Americans Bruce Hansel of Hawaii and Danny Camplin of Redondo Beach, Calif. They left the ship shortly after engine failure left the Tirta Kencana stranded, and paddled on their surfboards to nearby Penaitan Island, about 80 miles west of Jakarta, for help.
U.S. Navy planes joined the search for the boat, which washed up on a beach about 120 nautical miles from Penaitan Island.
"All we had was a compass and guesses," said boat passsenger Ken Benton, 35, of Honolulu. "When I get home I'm taking courses in celestial navigation."
Brett Beezley, 27, of Newcastle, Australia, recalled how the stranded surfers tried to fight the sea.
"We made sails out of mats and sheets and a rudder out of one of the seats on board," Beezley said. "But it was just a matter of time in those swells."