Japanese surfer rescued six kilometres off Wollongong
On Friday morning a surfer was plucked from the ocean off Wollongong by a nearby container ship. The fellow had spent 16 hours afloat on his board and had drifted six kilometres from the coast. The surfer, a 37-year-old Japanese tourist, was brought safely ashore after he drifted alongside the MSC Damla, Panama-registered ship container ship.
The man entered the water at Bulli Beach north of Wollongong on 5pm Thursday. Conditions saw a two foot north-east swell breaking with a light north-east seabreeze. He told rescuers the waves began to grow too big for him, so he paddled out behind the sets. Improbably he was then dragged six kilometres out to sea.
Sergeant Sean Netting from Port Kembla Water Police said the man appeared unfazed by his ordeal.
"[MSC Damla] crew were able to lower the gangway, he was able to paddle over and they basically just plucked him out of the water," said Sergeant Netting. "We couldn't believe it. He's out there on a surfboard, adrift, at nighttime. The risk would be hypothermia from exposure to the elements, and drowning, should he have become separated from the board."
"Most people that get themselves in that situation die. He's just so lucky that someone on ship spotted him."
The man was surfing alone and no-one appeared to realise he'd gone missing. He hadn't been reported and an alarm hadn't been raised.
"He's a survivor," said Sergeant Netting