Man falls off boat, clings to water beacon for three hours

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Dec. 30 (UPI) -- An Australian man who was thrown off his boat by a strong wave was brought safely back to shore after swimming a half a mile to a water beacon and waiting three hours for rescue.

David Simpson, 64, said he was on his boat off the coast of Caloundra, Queensland, when he was knocked into the water by a large wave while trying to secure the rope securing the vessel's dinghy.


"The wave hit the side of the boat and I was trying to secure the dinghy, which had come a little bit adrift, and a rope broke holding the dinghy," Simpson told 9News.

Simpson said his boat, which had his dog onboard, sped off with its motor still running. The sailor swam about a half a mile to a water beacon and waited for a large enough wave to push him high enough to reach the beacon's ladder.

Simpson's boat was found by another boater, who discovered the vessel was occupied only by Simpson's dog and alerted authorities. The boat ran aground and the dog, Mitch, was rescued by Surf Life Saving Queensland personnel.


Simpson was spotted by a rescue helicopter after about three hours of trying to flag down other boats. He said he took off his shorts to use them as a flag, but was unable to get any attention until the helicopter showed up.

"Maybe that's why nobody stopped, because I was naked," he said.

Rescuers said Simpson was found about 1.6 miles away from his vessel.

"He's a very lucky man to be able to get to that beacon," said Ian Hunt, commander of the Mooloolaba coast guard.

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