Stranded: Paul Kline and fellow diver Fernando Garcia Puerta were abandoned miles from land when their charter boat left without them
Two terrified divers were left stranded in shark-infested waters when their charter boat disappeared. Paul Kline and Fernando Garcia Puerta had to cling to a buoy for two hours after surfacing from their late-afternoon dive in the Atlantic Ocean three miles from Miami and finding no trace of their boat.
'We were in shock. We could easily have died,' Kline, 44, told the Miami Herald.
'If night had fallen, the situation would have turned into panic.'
He said they kept talking to each other throughout their ordeal 'to try to keep up our high spirits'.
Mr Kline, a married father of six from Texas, told WSVN-TV that he could only think about getting back to his family while stranded in the water.
He said: 'I wasn't giving up anytime soon.'
Mr Kline and Mr Puerta, a Spanish tourist, were eventually spotted by the crew of a passing yacht and brought safely to shore.
'You could notice a strong feeling of relief,' said Elie Trichet, captain of the No Compromise which was returning to Miami from the Florida Keys when his passengers saw the men clutching their diving equipment.
'They had been clinging to that buoy for two hours hoping somebody would rescue them.'
The rescued divers each paid $85 for the four-hour adventure in Biscayne Bay, which was meant to include two one-hour dives at different locations.
Mr Kline said that he initially thought there had been a medical emergency aboard the boat, which is why it was not there when he and Mr Garcia surfaced 55 minutes into the first dive after studying coral reef. He said he assumed another boat would be sent back for them.
Instead, the other divers on the trip had already boarded and the boat was en route to the second dive site with the captain unaware he had left the two behind.
Mr Kline said they realised after a while that they had been forgotten.
The two, who did not previously know each other, were recovering in Miami today while coastguards launched an investigation.
Sasha Boulanger, owner of South Beach Divers, which organised the trip, was due to meet Mr Kline today to apologise.
But he said the incident was the fault of RJ Diving Ventures, the boat operators he contracted to take the divers out, and not his own company, which he said enjoyed an 'excellent' safety record.
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