The overloaded, decrepit fishing boat had defied the Indian Ocean for five punishing days when increasingly turbulent seas near the Australian territory of Ashmore Reef slowly began to swamp the tiny vessel.
Its panic-stricken cargo of about 60 asylum-seekers had, like thousands of others in recent years, risked everything sailing from Indonesia in search of a new life beyond the horizon.
"All we could do was pray that we would get to Australia," said Ali, a 26-year old Iraqi refugee who will never forget that fraught journey in December 2009.
The website designer had escaped violence in Iraq, and travelled through Iran and Malaysia before arriving in Indonesia, where trafficking gangs lie in wait for the desperate and vulnerable.
"When you are in the middle of the ocean all you can see is only the sky and the water. No-one would know about you if something happened," Ali told the BBC from his new home in Brisbane.
"It was a hard experience. It just was a little, old boat. We didn't have enough space to sleep. It was scary. Fortunately the ( Australian) navy got to us before anything happened," he added.
Others are not so fortunate, and we will never know how many boats have vanished en route.
A few days later 130 people were rescued when their boat sank in the same region.
'Political hot potato'
The maritime emergencies sparked another bitter and ultimately fruitless round of political squabbling in Canberra.
Sayad Kasim Rohingya Muslim refugee