Two Nothern Territory men have been found stressed and dehydrated after a harrowing three-day ordeal in saltwater crocodile-infested waters after they became stuck on an island in the Daly River.
According to an NT Police media release, the boat sank within seconds, and the men were unable to retrieve their mobile phones or trigger their emergency beacon in time.
Police Territory Support Division Superintendent Shaun Gill said one of the men swam as fast as he could to a mangrove island, while the other stayed put and just tried to grab anything he could, reported NT News.
“While this happened, a crocodile tried to attack… (it) went for him, swam up towards him, and he had to throw objects at it to keep alive,” he said. “There were a few times where the crocodile ducked under the water while they were swimming…and (he) thought they were going to be done.”
Gill said they managed to get to the bank, surviving the intense heat without food and fresh water, and minus their phones or emergency beacons.
“They had no water to drink to the point where they found bottles on the beach where they tried to drink urine mixed with Berocca,” he said.
They also licked moisture off leaves to stay hydrated and found an Esky lid to make a help sign in the hope of being noticed by a rescue plane.
The men had spent two nights waiting for help on the island. Then, on Saturday morning, the skipper of another vessel came across some debris from the sunken boat, later managing to locate the stranded men.
The skipper of the vessel, Mango farm owner Shayne Taylor, told NT News he suspected something was wrong when he spotted a bag washed up on the shore on Saturday afternoon.
Taylor said that although the men were stressed from their ordeal, they had managed to keep their wits.
“These young blokes have done the right thing and hadn’t gone too far,” he said. “They’re bush sort of blokes.”
The men were taken to Royal Darwin Hospital for assessment but were discharged the same evening.
According to Acting Sergeant Troy Harris from the Water Police Section, it appeared that the men had originally “taken every safety precaution prior to this trip.”
He also indicated they had done the right thing by swimming directly to the nearest land, trying to attract attention, and staying put.
However, he pointed out that their safety equipment was not readily accessible in the short time they had before the boat sank.
“This incident highlights the need for a ‘grab bag’ with safety gear that is easily accessible because the unexpected can happen, and it can happen in a matter of seconds,” he said.
He added that the men were lucky to be alive given the remoteness of the area, the extreme heat, and the presence of saltwater crocodiles.