Diver describes being lost at sea

Posted: 12/16/2011 in all marine news

Michael Todd –

Eric Lambert, 61, clasped a bag of two lobsters – a 2-pounder and a 4-pounder – against his chest for two hours as he bobbed in rough open water Sunday.

After two hours adrift, sometime about 12:30 p.m., the bag slipped from Lambert’s hands and sank to the sea floor.

“My first reaction was to go and get it,” Lambert said. He was stranded about one mile southeast of Dog Island, far from where his dive began that morning off a friend’s boat.

The bag and Lambert’s weight belt felt heavier with time. “You’re bobbing and weaving,” Lambert said.

“It’s not like you sit there.”

His best friend C.C. Kraglo, a Coast Guard auxiliary member and an EMT, was on the phone calling everyone for rescue.

Lambert drifted southeast for three hours before a Coast Guard helicopter spotted him 1½ miles southeast of Dog Island.

Coast Guard helicopters, which are based in Aguadilla on Puerto Rico, take about 40 minutes to reach the U.S. Virgin Islands, said Coast Guard Spokesman Ricardo Castrodad.

The search by the U.S. Coast Guard, St. John Rescue and the National Park Service began about 11 a.m. Lambert was smiling, waving and clutching a yellow flotation buoy in 6-foot seas when a St. John Rescue powerboat retrieved him about 1:30 p.m. He knew his friend would find him.

“There was no way I wasn’t going to be found,” Lambert said.

“I wasn’t going to be a corpse on the beach.” When Lambert finished his solo dive to about 70 feet at 10:30 a.m. and resurfaced, he sounded his whistle, which Kraglo recognized before lifting the Swordmaster III’s anchor, about 200-300 yards away.

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