It's been quite a couple of days for Mick Fanning's sponsor Rip Curl, but when the dust settles they will no doubt reflect that things could have gone much, much worse.

In the dark, early hours of Wednesday morning, Rip Curl's charter boat -- formerly known as the Indies Trader II, rechristened as Quest I in 2011 -- sank due to an engine leak. The boat that had been responsible for ferrying around Tom Curren, Fanning, Steph Gilmore and so many more, on so many of Rip Curl's legendary "Search" missions, now lies at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. Thankfully none of its former passengers do.

All those on board made it to safety, although not before drifting around in two 6-man tin boats for a few nervous hours. The boat was into its third day of a trip around the Mentawais, and had left Lance's Right the evening before after dinner, heading off in search of some more uncrowded waves. Pete Nevins, one of the eight guests on board, told Surfing Life he was woken up at 2.30am and asked to come and take a look at the engine room. There he found three crew members trying to stop the leak and empty the water entering the ship.

"I’m not 100% sure, but I’m pretty sure that when I looked down there, there was bubbling coming up from behind the starboard diesel – the twin screw – and that’s the one hole in the boat that can leak if not properly maintained," he says.

They struggled unsuccessfully for a further 90 minutes before resolving to abandon ship, throwing surfboards into the sea as they left in a quick-thinking attempt to leave some sort of trail behind. An SOS was sent, and a group of ten boats set out on a rather different kind of search, which came to an end at 9.30 that morning; the shipwrecked surfers and crew were picked up by the Ratu Motu and the Indies Trader III, the latter captained by Martin Daly, who had in fact built Quest 1 in the first place.

Read the full account here.