As the speedboat sank in a storm, Hakan Ergun, 38, cradled his two-year-old daughter Sena in his arms and feared they were both going to die.
''I had to kick myself free as the boat went down,'' he said. ''I thought it was the end. My daughter and I actually went under the water but luckily we surfaced.''
Mr Ergun, on the island-to-island day trip from Phuket to Phi Phi and back with his wife Zuhal, 33, and their other daughter, Beyza, eight, is from Sydney.
He added: ''The boat and the crew were hopeless.
''The lifejackets weren't really life jackets at all. There were buckles missing and it was a miracle everyone stayed afloat.
''The captain and the crew, they had no idea whatesoever. It was every man for himself.''
A total of 37 passengers were on the Phuket to Phi Phi island-to-island tour, along with a Thai guide and three crew.
Phuketwan understands that 12 rescued passengers - the four members of the Ergun family, two Turkish people, two Kuwaitis, two Koreans and two New Zealanders - are staying on Phi Phi and will return to Phuket tomorrow.
A Phuketwan reporter spoke with Mr Ergun by telephone late tonight.
Another 24 rescued passengers were brought back to Phuket today by speedboat. Most of them are thought to be Chinese, although there were a handful of European tourists among them.
Several were taken to Phuket International Hospital in Phuket City for examination and possible admission.
Today's near tragedy is likely to bring to a head concerns that the captains of speedboats on Phuket are allowed to venture out to sea even on days when experts say it's too dangerous.
Phuket speedboats are also seldom checked for safety and the authorities take a casual approach to risks.
Mr Ergun said tonight: ''We were clearly in trouble and everybody was terrified. There was no gps, no radio. The standards are appalling.''
Mr Ergun said the family and the other passengers were on an island-to-island day trip from Phuket to Phi Phi and after lunch at the Bora Bora restaurant on Phi Phi, the plan was to go to another small island.
''Because it was so rough, we all wanted to go straight back to Phuket,'' he said. ''But the boat wasn't up to it.''
He said he thought there was another Australian family on the boat.
''I really thought my number was up,'' he said. ''We were probably in the water for about 15 minutes.
''When a small boat came close, it looked as though they were going away without us. Then I cried 'Baby! Baby! and they came back. They saved us from drowning.''
He said safety standards on the boat and the care shown by the crew was ''shocking.''
A spokesman for the Chao Fa Krabi Rescue Centre, who helped rescue everyone on board, said: ''I am very surprised that any kind of small boat was on the water in this weather.''
Weather warnings were issued today advising small boats not to venture out. It's believed some boat captains opt to make money despite the risks.
The alarm today was raised by a village chief on Phi Phi who saw the speedboat was having trouble off the holiday island in a violent storm.
He alerted authorities. Two local speedboats, the Andaman Beach and the Mareehuanna, went to the rescue of the vessel.
Meanwhile, other calls were made to the Phuket Marine Police and to the Chao Fa Krabi Rescue Centre.
Responding despite the high waves and driving storm, the vessels managed to pluck all the passengers and crew from the sea.
Details of what happened on board the stricken vessel are likely to emerge tomorrow as the rescued passengers give their accounts.
The Ergun family and the other passengers on Phi Phi are expected back on Phuket early tomorrow.
Phuketwan helped the Koreans, who were due to fly out from Phuket International Airport tonight, to change their booking to an alternative flight at 2am on Wednesday.
Children were also on board a speedboat that sank off Phuket in January this year that terrifed them and the other passengers, most of them Australians.
January is the so-called high season in the Phuket-Phi Phi region when weather conditions are expected to be better than in August, the middle of the stormy monsoon season.
In March 2009, a diving boat capsized in a storm off Phuket. Six tourists and the Thai cook drowned. Twenty-three were rescued.