A 62-year-old Frenchman survived 16 hours at sea by relying on an air bubble under his boat after it capsized in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Spanish coast guard that eventually rescued him.
In a mission they described as “on the edge of the impossible”, the Spanish coast guards he said raced “against the clock” to rescue the man, who has not been publicly identified, after his boat sent out a distress signal on Monday night.
The Spanish coast guard said the 40-foot Jeanne Solo Sailor sent out the distress signal just before 8:30 p.m. (2 p.m. ET) about 14 miles from the Sisargas Islands, off the northwestern region of Galicia, Spain. Tracking data showed the ship had set sail from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon on Sunday morning, according to Reuters.
After a difficult search in “rough seas”, the Coast Guard said divers were able to locate the overturned vessel.
Dramatically video shared by the dockyard, a rescuer can be seen lowering onto the boat and leaning over it, appearing to pound on the hull before hearing signs of life from the sailor.
According to Reuters, the sailor responded by knocking from inside the boat.
After determining that the sea was too rough to attempt a rescue, the coast guard attached flotation balloons to the ship’s hull to prevent it from sinking further as they waited for the morning, the news agency reported.
The sailor was finally rescued from “inside the sailboat” around 12 noon (6 a.m. ET) on Tuesday, with video released by the coast guard showing him being airlifted to safety.
“Every life we save is our greatest reward,” the Coast Guard said he said.
The Spanish coast guard did not immediately respond to a request for more information.