Japanese surfer saved after night adrift off Australia

A current pulled him out to sea off Bulli Beach, 80km south of Sydney. The crew of a passing container ship spotted him on his surfboard 6km offshore.
A current pulled him out to sea off Bulli Beach, 80km south of Sydney. The crew of a passing container ship spotted him on his surfboard 6km offshore.PHOTO: MEDITERRANEAN SHIPPING COMPANY

SYDNEY (AFP) - A Japanese man has been rescued after spending a night drifting on his surfboard miles off the east coast of Australia, a report said on Saturday (Jan 14).

The 37-year-old told police a current pulled him out to sea off Bulli Beach, 80 kilometres south of Sydney early Thursday evening.

"He spent the night clinging to his surfboard and it is estimated he spent about 16 hours in the water," the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said.

He told police the waves were too big for him and he could not paddle back to shore against a strong current.

The crew of passing container ship MSC Damla spotted him sitting on his hired yellow board six kilometres off shore and managed to pull him aboard the 300-metre vessel.

Pictures posted on Facebook show him hanging on to a lifebuoy thrown from the Mediterranean Shipping Company's boat.

The crew gave him food and drink and warm clothing and contacted the authorities.

"Our crew are always being observant of marine traffic, but it is exceptionally fortunate they were able to spot this man waving for help from his surf board," MSC Australia managing director Kevin Clarke told Infomarine On-Line.

The unnamed man was in "remarkably good spirits", he said.

The surfer was taken to Wollongong Hospital but discharged Friday afternoon in good health, ABC added.

"This incident is a reminder of the need to let people know your plans before setting out, as well as the importance of knowing local conditions," Surf Life Saving New South Wales said.

MSC Damla is currently at anchorage just off Sydney.