The four Australians who were feared dead after their boat sank in Indonesia miraculously survived the terrifying 36-hour ordeal by clinging to their surfboards.
Elliot Foote, his girlfriend Steph Weisse and their two friends Jordan Short and Will Teagle went missing on Sunday night after their charter boat failed to return from a remote island north of Sumatra due to bad weather.
The four friends were found safe and sound on Tuesday, along with two of the three Indonesians who were also on board the ship. A third Indonesian is still missing.
Mr Foote, who traveled with 11 of his friends on a surf trip to remote Pinang Island to celebrate his 30th birthday, was seen on his friend’s Instagram drinking a beer just hours later confirmation of his rescue.
Back in Sydney, Will Teagle’s sister Amy described receiving a Facetime from her brother.
“He said the boat they were on sank in the middle of the night, so it was pitch dark and they grabbed what they could,” she told A Current Affair.
“They all managed to get a surfboard and then spent two nights in the ocean.
Elliot Foote pictured with his girlfriend Steph Weisse were both rescued
Australians Jordan Short and Will Teagle were also found
“He said they had no idea where they were, what direction they were facing. By the grace of God, I guess they managed to paddle in what turned out to be the right direction.
“It’s just very overwhelming.”
Steph, Jordan and Will were found around 11 a.m. Sydney time on Tuesday by an Australian captain who had gone looking for them around 10 p.m. Sunday local time.
But it took another three hours before Elliot, who had left the group to paddle about 5km from the group, was found.
Elliot’s father said the discovery of the three was “fantastic”, but he described the stress of the hours until his son was found.
“It was heartbreaking, as you can imagine,” Peter Foote told A Current Affair.
“Then when I saw this video…and you hear this voice say, ‘Where’s Elliot? and they don’t have it.
“My heart just fell.”
This is the incredible moment Steph Weisse, Will Teagle and Jordan Short and an Indonesian crew member were found after 36 hours lost at sea
The group were part of a party of 12 Australians across two wooden rowboats traveling between Nias Island and Pinang surf resort on the Banyak Islands, off the west coast of the mainland, when the ship encountered bad weather on Sunday.
Elliot’s friends told rescuers he paddled to the island for help and was found there.
Mr Toole said the four did not know the fate of their other eight friends during the time they were at sea.
Speaking to 7News, Steph’s mother, Jill Weisse, said she felt helpless during the search.
“There’s not much we can do and your mind goes to all kinds of dark places,” she said.
Steph was the first confirmed Australian to be found, followed by
On Tuesday afternoon, Elliot’s father Peter confirmed the news that three of the friends had been rescued from the Outlying Islands.
Moments after speaking to Sky News, Mr Foote received a message from his son confirming he had been rescued.
‘Hey dad, Elliot here. I’m alive, safe now, I love you. Discuss later,” the text reads.
Missing fourth Australian Elliot Foote (pictured) was rescued shortly after
The group were staying at the exclusive Pinang Surf resort (pictured)
A tired but relieved Elliot Foote enjoyed a well-deserved beer on his return to dry land
Mr Foote praised the work of search and rescue teams, including an Australian who lives in the area and helped with the search.
He had helped coordinate friends, hired charter boats and even offered rewards to local anglers from his home in Sydney.
He told Sky News the man wanted reassurance before calling off the search, before revealing his son’s next move.
“Elliot will return to the island, they (the group) will regroup and get healthy, and probably have a good night tonight,” he said.
Asked how badly he wanted to see his son, Mr Foote said: ‘I don’t really need to see him as long as I know he’s alive.
“I can’t wait to talk to him, what an adventure he is living, what a story to tell.
“He has 10 days left, so he’s in the best place. They love it, it’s heaven.
“As long as I can talk to him, he doesn’t have to come home.”