Rajveer Vakani (Supplied photo)
Rajveer Vakani (Supplied photo)

Dubai expat falls off yacht into sea, swims 2 hours to survive

Dubai - He and his friends were celebrating a birthday on board a rented yacht when the incident happened.


Karen Ann Monsy

Published: Mon 7 Dec 2020, 4:40 PM

Last updated: Mon 7 Dec 2020, 7:08 PM

A 27-year-old Dubai resident had a near-fatal experience after he fell off a yacht and had to swim for two hours to reach shore on Thursday.

Indian expat Rajveer Vakani said the incident happened during a friend’s birthday party on a rented yacht. The vessel had departed from Dubai Marina around 5.30pm and was out in the middle of the sea when the guests on board decided to head to the upper deck.

Rajveer said he was the last person to leave the lower deck, but slipped on a walkway and fell directly into the water.

“I shouted, whistled and called, but no one heard me,” said Rajveer, who works as an accountant in Dubai. Although the area is popular for yachting, there were no others in the vicinity and it was rapidly getting dark.

“I waited for about 15 minutes, hoping that the yacht would turn around — but it didn’t. Soon, it was gone.”

Spotting the lights of the Burj Al Arab in the distance, he began swimming towards the hotel. “I checked my watch before starting and it took me about two hours to get to shore,” he said, noting that he reached land around 9pm.

Although he had learnt to swim as a child, Rajveer admitted he wasn’t a very strong swimmer and it took a lot of determination to keep going.

“I watch a lot of survivor shows every day. Even as a child, I used to watch Discovery Channel shows that were about what to do if you got lost in the jungle or on the mountains. So, I knew what I had to do.”

The expat said he lost both the phone in his pocket and the camera around his neck in the process. “I just kept swimming. It was very difficult, and my chest still hurts because of the effort. I ended up drinking a lot of seawater and vomiting when I reached shore.”

When he safely got on land, a passing stranger helped Rajveer off the rocks, while another let him use his phone to call his brother, whom he lives with in Al Nahda, Dubai.

Rajveer then contacted his friend from the yacht party and discovered that they’d already notified the cops of his disappearance. “The police asked me to report to the Port Rashid station. The yacht captain and crew members were also there with my friends.”

Rajveer, who considers himself a fitness freak, is no stranger to the mental fortitude required for physical challenges. “The battle is definitely in the mind,” he said. “I go to the gym regularly, so I’m familiar with that. Even though it was hard, I’m glad I never gave up.”


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