Better to be lucky and good
Published on January 5th, 2021
A man sailing alone in the Arafura Sea to the north of Australia was rescued in rough conditions eight hours after he was blown overboard from his 10-metre yacht. Knocked off by what he described as a “freak gust of wind” and unable to get back to his boat before it drifted away, it was his safety preparation which saved his life.
The sailor was wearing a life jacket with a personal locator beacon (PLB), and when he fell into the water, it prompted the beacon on his PBL to alert the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), who advised nearby authorities in the Northern Territory at approximately 9:30am on January 4 of the distress signal, located 50 nm northeast from the remote town of Nhulunbuy.
In a joint operation, NT Police and AMSA worked in poor weather conditions and heavy seas to reach the stranded yachty.
AMSA deployed a fix winged aircraft while police in Nhulunbuy launched their rescue vessel with three crew. The man was located by the AMSA aircraft 12 nm from his yacht and the crew dropped down a life raft, where he was able to make radio contact.
Following his rescue, he was treated for exhaustion and dehydration, but managed to avoid more serious injuries as warm water temperature helped to avoid hypothermia.
Acting Superintendent Michael Milde said the rescue had been a great team effort in challenging conditions, but it was the actions of the yachty that made the rescue possible.
“The fact that he was wearing a life jacket which had a personal locator beacon attached highlighted the importance of carrying and correctly utilizing proper safety equipment whilst at sea. The end result would have been tragic if not for this equipment,” said Acting Superintendent Michael Milde.
Superintendent Milde said they were unable to recover the man’s yacht, due to the deteriorating weather conditions, but were continuing to track its progress.