For 26 travelers leaving from Bali on 5th June, the journey became a disaster. After leaving Benoa Harbour, the boat traveled 21.75 nautical miles before the engines completely failed.
The capital sent a distress call to the Mataram Search and Rescue Unit who immediately launched a rescue mission. The ship was carrying international and Indonesian travelers and a crew of 11 people. The international travelers are said to be from Australia, the USA, Italy, Spain, Germany, and India.
Fortunately, no one was injured or harmed. The Mataram Search and Rescue team was able to reach the boat and successfully evacuate all passengers and crew to dry land on Lombok.
The boat had been dragged the current out west toward Teluk Nara. The boat’s captain was eventually able to put down an anchor and waited for the Search and Rescue team to arrive. The rescue boat arrived at 2.15 am local time. After everyone was evacuated, the boat was escorted to the closest port in Lombok’s Nara Bay.
It has not been shared why the engine failed. During the pandemic, many boat operators lost all of their income. Many had to sell their boats, while others had no option but to leave them in a dock with little funds for maintenance.
This could be a case of poor maintenance of the boat, although engine failure can happen at any time without warning. There has been no suggestion that there will be an investigation into the incident given that no one was harmed.
As Bali and Lombok begin to recover from the pandemic, boat operators will be grateful for the renewed income. The Lombok Strait is a busy shipping lane and in peak season carries thousands of tourists every day from Bali to Gili Air, Gili Meno, Gili Trawangan, and Lombok. The Gili Islands are a favorite with backpackers and travelers who are seeking pristine white sand beaches and good snorkeling.
All fast boat ports across Bali are seeing a rise in the number of visitors passing through. Travelers heading to Bali are increasingly eager to explore. After two years of very limited international travel options travelers are making up for lost time.
The fast boat options from Bali make exploring the surrounded islands easy and affordable. Travelers can visit Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida within a day, although many choose to stay longer to explore the incredible beaches and stylish cafes.
Most travellers use Padang Bai Port to access the Gili Islands and use Sanur to access Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. There are boats that go to the Gili Islands from Sanur too.
The fast boat operators are under regular scrutiny regarding boat safety procedures. Events like this weekend’s engine failure are reminders to boat operators to complete relevant checks.
In early May a tourist boat used for parasailing in the Tanjung Benoa bay caught fire. This was another case of engine failure, the boat also had to be evacuated and tourists were safely bought back to land. The boat owner experiences a financial loss of over USD 50,000.
Travelers are always encouraged to do their own research about the safety ratings of tourism operations wherever they go in the world. Though no one can prevent accidents there are steps travelers can take to ensure that they are safe in transit.
Travelers are encouraged to book with providers that come from a personal recommendation and that if they see or feel that something isn’t safe, to speak up and tell the operator so a solution can be found as quickly as possible.
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