Photo: Australian Maritime Safety Authority/AFP/Ho
An Australian yachtsman was reunited with his family Thursday following a dramatic rescue after a massive wave picked up his boat and rolled it over, hundreds of kilometres off the coast.Glenn Ey, 44, spent days adrift before being spotted by an Air Canada passenger plane, which swooped down low to search for him after being diverted by Australian authorities en route to Sydney from Vancouver.
“A monstrous wave just came up… rolled the boat over (and) I went smashing into the roof,” Ey, who was sailing solo from Sydney to New Zealand, told the Seven Network of last Friday’s incident.
“It’s extraordinary. The noise is like an explosion.
“You are upside down, smashing around inside the boat, it is filling up with water. I don’t think there is anyone who wouldn’t be concerned.
“You do think your number is up — there’s no question about that.”
With a snapped mast and no fuel, Ey began drifting in a remote area of the ocean, prompting him to activate his emergency beacon.
“My first priority was to sort out the mast, because in rough seas the mast can puncture the boat very easily. It will just spear the boat and you’re going to go down so quick it’s not funny,” he told ABC television.
“I got rid of the mast and all the rigging, that took about 36 hours, then I spent a day bailing the boat out.”
The pilot of the Air Canada Boeing 777, Captain Andrew Robertson, said he descended as low as 1,524 metres (5,000 feet) so the crew could scour the ocean with binoculars.
“I had already made a PA announcement telling passengers what we were doing,” he told reporters.
“And as we got into the area, I said ‘We’re coming into the search area, please everybody look out of the window and if you see anything, let us know.'”
As the plane banked right, the first officer spotted the yacht some 270 nautical miles off the Sydney coast and alerted authorities.
It took the rescue boat 43 hours to make the return trip to Sydney, battling five metre waves and high winds to reach Ey and get him back to shore, where he was met by his tearful mother.
Ey’s yacht is still drifting at sea and he said he was in no hurry to get back on the ocean.
“I would be quite happy to sit under a tree for a while,” he said.
Copyright (2012) AFP. All rights reserved.
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