Sailor survives 16 hours under capsized boat in Atlantic Ocean

Sailor survives 16 hours under capsized boat in Atlantic Ocean

A 62-year-old French sailor survived for 16 hours in the Atlantic after his boat capsized – using an air bubble inside the overturned vessel.

The brave sailor was eventually rescued from the rough waters by Spanish Coast Guard divers in what they described as an operation “approaching the impossible.”

The 40-foot boat, named Jeanne SOLO Sailor, sent out a distress signal at 11:23 p.m. local time Monday 14 miles from the Sisargas Islands off Spain’s northwestern Galicia region, said the Coast Guard.

Tracking data shows it had set sail from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon on Sunday morning.

As a coast guard ship carrying five divers embarked on the rescue mission, one of three helicopters sent to help the search tracked the capsized boat up at sunset.

A diver was hoisted onto the ship’s hull to search for signs of life, and the sailor inside, who has not been named, responded to knocking on the hull by knocking from the inside.

Spanish divers and helicopters found the 40-foot-long Jean SOLO Sailor 14 miles from the Sisargas Islands off Spain's northwestern Galicia region on Monday.
Spanish divers and helicopters found the 40-foot-long Jean SOLO Sailor 14 miles from the Sisargas Islands off Spain’s northwestern Galicia region on Monday.
Twitter/@salvamentogob
A diver was lowered onto the hull of the sailboat and exchanged blows with the sailor trapped inside.
A diver was lowered onto the hull of the sailboat and exchanged blows with the sailor trapped inside.
Twitter/@salvamentogob
Rescuers attached buoyancy to the capsized boat's hull to stabilize it in rough seas.
Rescuers attached flotation balloons to the capsized boat’s hull to stabilize it in rough seas.
SALVAMENTO MARITIMO/AFP via Gett

When the sea was too rough to attempt a rescue, they attached flotation balloons to the ship’s hull to prevent it from sinking further and waited until morning, with the Frenchman still trapped below.

Two divers swam under the boat to help the sailor, who they found wearing a neoprene survival suit and submerged in water up to his knees.

“Every life saved is our greatest reward,” Spain’s Maritime Safety and Rescue Society said in a tweet.

Vicente Cobelo, a member of the Coast Guard’s special operations team, told a local station that the man voluntarily jumped into the icy water and swam under the boat to reach the surface.

Two divers swam under the boat to help the sailor out.
Two divers swam under the boat to help the sailor.
SALVAMENTO MARITIMO/AFP via Gett
The Spanish Coast Guard described the daring rescue operation as
The Spanish coast guard described the daring rescue operation as “on the verge of the impossible”.
SALVAMENTO MARITIMO/AFP via Gett

“On his own initiative he got into the water and freedived out, helped by the divers who had to pull him through because it was difficult for him to get out in the suit,” he said.

He was airlifted to hospital, but was discharged a short time later with a clean bill of health.

With Post wires

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