Earth & Conservation

A Surfer Adrift Overnight Was Rescued by a Ship Crew

A Japanese surfer survived a harrowing night at sea off the coast of Australia before being spotted by the crew of a container ship.

File this one under incredibly close calls at sea.

Lots of things could have gone really wrong for the hapless Japanese surfer who got stranded nearly four miles from the Australian shore for more than 16 hours. The water was choppy and home to sharks, and the 37-year-old man had been adrift overnight. He was also susceptible to hypothermia.

In a stroke of good luck, eagle-eyed crew members of the container ship MSC Damla spotted him waving for help from his bright yellow surfboard last Friday. Pixelated photos show that they threw him a life-buoy and brought him aboard. Afterward, they gave him a dry crew uniform to wear, food and wrapped him in blankets, according to a press statement from the global container shipping company MSC.

"Most people that get themselves in that situation die. He's just so lucky that someone on ship spotted him," Port Kembla Water Police Sergeant Sean Netting told Illawarra Mercury reporter Angela Thompson.

Although he initially waved off medical assistance, the unnamed man was transported from the ship to the shore by a pilot vessel, and then taken by ambulance to Wollongong Hospital. Miraculously he was uninjured and released that afternoon.

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The man, who was visiting Australia from Japan, had set out from Bulli Beach the day before around 5 pm in warm weather by himself. He told rescuers later that the waves at the beach got too big for him so he tried paddling out behind the sets when the current dragged him out, Thompson reported.

The 964-foot-long container ship, which is registered in Panama, had been anchored off the shore for a few days. "This was, by all accounts, a dramatic rescue which appears to have enabled the man to walk free from his ordeal completely unscathed," MSC Australia medical doctor Kevin Clarke said in a statement.

Pretty sure that was enough surfing adventure to last the guy a lifetime.

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