'It was so intense.' The four Aussies recount how they survived 36 hours at sea.

Chilling details have emerged of the 36 hours four Australians spent floating on surfboards off the coast of Indonesia before they were found. 

Elliot Foote, his girlfriend Steph Weisse and mates Will Teagle and Jordan Short were on a surf trip of a lifetime, when the wooden speed boat they were on hit rough weather on Sunday night.

As the vessel started to sink, the group - as well as three Indonesian crew members onboard - did whatever they could to stay alive, according to Will's sister Amy. 

Watch: The moment the three surfers were found. Post continues after video.

Video via Instagram/@bennycradock.

"The boat they were on had sunk in the middle of the night so it was pitch black and they grabbed what they could," she told A Current Affair. 

"They all managed to get a surfboard and they then spent two nights in the ocean."

Suddenly adrift in dark waters, somewhere on the way to the small island of Pinang, Amy said the group was suddenly lost. 

"They obviously had no idea where they were, what direction they were facing, and by the grace of God, they managed to paddle in what ended up being the right direction," she explained, after speaking to her brother on FaceTime. 


"It's just very overwhelming."

The four themselves have also spoken for the first time about what happened when their boat began to sink.

"When the first one [wave] came in, Jordie's [Jordan Short] like all right guys this could be serious,' Elliot recounted in an interview with 9News.

"I was like all right sweet, grab me that, grab me something warm, grab me my knife, grab me this. We all started grabbing s**t. I was like 'everybody get the f**k out now'."

Rescue efforts.

When Elliot, Steph, Will and Jordan failed to make it to Pinang, their eight friends - who were in another boat that had taken shelter during the storm - raised the alarm. 

A search was soon launched with a fellow Aussie and "legend" Grant Richardson volunteering himself and his catamaran to search for the group, with their mates onboard his boat.  

Image: Instagram/Sydney Morning Herald.


"He was searching all through the night and he nailed where he thought they were and went there," Amy explained. 

"My heart just dropped."

Still clinging to their surfboards, Steph, Will, Jordan and two of the Indonesian crew members were found on Tuesday at around 11am local time.

It was a further three hours before local fishermen located Elliot, who grew up in Sydney, 32 kilometres away. He’d volunteered to paddle to the nearby island of Pulau Palambakbesar on his surfboard.

Speaking to A Current Affair, Elliot's dad Peter Foote described the "gut-wrenching" moment he found out that his son's friends had been found safe, but not Elliot. 


"When I saw that video [of the rescue of Steph, Will and Jordan] and the boat coming up and seeing them and hearing that voice saying 'where's Elliot?' and they're like, 'we don't have him', my heart just - you can imagine - just dropped," he said. 

The local fisherman took Elliot to a nearby surf camp in Nias, where he sent a text message to his father, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

"Hey Dad, Elliot here," it read. 

"I'm alive. Safe now. Love you. Chat later."

Elliot said to 9News that those hours they spent on their surfboards stranded in the sea were very daunting.

"There were some moments out there where we were all quite nervous and didn't know what the outcome was going to be. We just banded together. I couldn't have been happier having these three with me - they were so strong."


For Steph, she noted that the whole ordeal was "so intense" but how proud she is that the four of them managed to look after one another.

Steph's parents said when they finally got the okay-call from their daughter, tears of relief washed over them.

"It was the most unbelievable feeling," they said through tears.

The holiday continues.

While Amy said it sounded like Elliot was in "a bit more of a bad way" than the others but physically fine, Elliot's dad Peter said, "mentally, they're shot".

"They were petrified, they were in a bad way mentally."

But the show will go on for the group. 

Image: Instagram/@bennycradock


Elliot was pictured having a beer just a few hours after he was rescued. 

Peter says the holiday will continue for his son and friends, who were travelling to celebrate Elliot's 30th birthday. 

"They've got their 10 best mates with them, they're in paradise," he said. 

"They just embraced each other and they'll get through. It's the best place for them really."

For Elliot, he told 9News the group is "thankful to be safe back on land now".

"We're dry, hydrated, fed and back with our friends. We just want to say thanks so much to the Australian government and Indonesian government for the rescue effort."

Meanwhile, search efforts continue for the third Indonesian crew member, Fifan, with local teams holding out hope he's still alive. 

"Now our thoughts are with the Indonesian family and friends of the missing one," Elliot said. "He's still out there. It's hard to think about. We just hope for the best for him."

This article was originally published on August 16, 2023, and has since been updated with new information.

Image: Instagram/DFAT.

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