French sailor survives 16 hours on an overturned boat in the ocean
An elderly Frenchman has survived 16 hours at sea using an air bubble inside his overturned boat. The 62-year-old was rescued from the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean by the Spanish coast guard, who considered this action borderline impossible.
Spain’s coast guard found the 12-metre sailboat overturned after receiving a signal late Monday night. However, the sailor had to wait until morning to escape because the sea was very rough.
The boat, named Jeanne Solo Sailor, sent the distress call 22 kilometers off the Sisargas Islands near Spain’s northwestern Galicia region.
He had left the day before from the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.
Three helicopters and a rescue ship scrambled to rescue him after receiving a distress call at 8:23 p.m. local time. One of the helicopters spotted the overturned boat as the sun was setting and sent a diver to check for signs of life.
The Frenchman hit the inside of his ship to let rescuers know he was alive. He was found wearing a neoprene survival suit and submerged up to his knees in water.
The sea at this point was too rough to attempt a rescue and visibility had become poor.
Members of the Coast Guard attached a floating balloon to the vessel to stop it sinking into the freezing waters and waited until morning.
Two divers swam under the boat to help free the sailor the next day.
According to Spanish media, the 62-year-old then jumped into the water and swam under the boat to reach his rescuers.
Coastguard divers described the operation as “impossible”.
He was airlifted to safety and taken to hospital for checks and was released shortly afterwards without any problems. /A2CNN