A Japanese surfer has been labelled a lucky survivor after he was rescued by a container ship that found him drifting on his surfboard 6km off the Australian coastline.
The 37-year-old man told police he got into trouble while surfing at Bulli Beach, near Wollongong, at about 5:00pm on Thursday.
“”He was attempting to paddle back in for six hours before he ran out of energy and drifted at sea. It went dark and, being by himself, no-one knew he was out there.” Inspector Darren Wood, of New South Wales Police, said.
Luckily, the eagle-eyed crew of the 300-metre long container ship MSC Damla spotted the man on top of his yellow surfboard.
As he drifted alongside the ship, the crew threw him a life buoy, and were able to pull him aboard.
“[MSC Damla] crew were able to lower the gangway, he was able to paddle over and they basically just plucked him out of the water,” Port Kembla Water Police Sergeant Sean Netting told the Mercury.
“We couldn’t believe it … he was hanging on to the board – that was the only thing he had to keep him alive.”
He was given food and drink and warm clothing, and the crew contacted authorities. A boat was sent out to the container ship to retrieve him.
NSW police told Guardian Australia the man was taken back to Port Kembla harbour and treated at Wollongong hospital where he was in good health and good spirits.
Police said there was no active search conducted for the man, as he was not reported missing.
The surfer told the police he had travelled to Australia a couple of times before.
“He appears to be travelling by himself, and that was why no-one was alerted to the fact that he was stuck in this rip and that he was out there,” Inspector Wood said.
The surfer spent the night in the water, but did not develop hypothermia as temperatures only dropped to roughly 21 degrees Celsius.
Source: theguardian.com / abc.net.au