KAENA POINT (HawaiiNewsNow) - An experienced diver is glad to be back at home after drifting at sea for eight hours off Kaena Point. Shining a laser at an aircraft is usually a crime, but this time it helped a Coast Guard crew find him.
Ron Tubbs has been catching aquarium fish for a living for 35 years. He has done thousands of deep-sea dives, but his latest outing nearly cost him his life.
"I try to be prepared for anything that can happen. Safety is always a major concern," said the Waimanalo resident.
He entered the water with his dive partner around 11 o'clock on Friday morning. He surfaced early when his line broke and he couldn't swim back to the boat.
"After kicking and kicking for quite awhile, I was unable to make it back to the boat so I was realized I'm going to be stuck out at sea for a long time," said Tubbs.
Tubbs was wearing a dry suit. He had two inflatable devices and a green laser. He said he drifted up to eight miles from shore, and was feeling tired and weak in the choppy seas.
"I was getting pretty sore in my legs and my back and thinking I might have decompression sickness and might be facing not just a lost at sea situation, but a medical situation," recalled Tubbs.
His friend called emergency crews, and Tubbs said he could see the Coast Guard and Honolulu Fire Department searching for him closer to shore.
"When it got dark I think they finally realized they saw the beam of the laser way off in the distance and took care not shine it in their eyes or anything, but in their direction and it reflects off the moisture in the air, so it makes a pretty big beam," said Tubbs.
"With how dark it was last night, it would have been impossible to see him unless we were right on top of him, knew exactly where he was. The way were able to find him so quickly was because he had some kind of signaling device," said Lt. Chris McAndrew of the U.S. Coast Guard.
While he was drifting, Tubbs had a lot of time to think about his wife and worry about sharks and jellyfish. Now that the ordeal is behind him, he is just grateful for his rescuers.
"I appreciate the Coast Guard and the fire department and all the work they put in to saving my life," said Tubbs.