A sailor rescued with the help of an Air Canada jetliner is now safe and sound in Sydney, Australia.
Glenn Ey, 44, from Queensland, told CBC News in a telephone interview Wednesday that he is grateful to those who helped with his rescue.
“I’ve been very well looked after, the water police and everyone involved in my assistance has been wonderful … there were wonderful efforts by many people, including the Air Canada staff and passengers apparently looking out for me … I’m very thankful for them.”
Ey had been sailing down the east coast of Australia for a few days when he hit a storm and a big wave broke the mast of his 11-metre yacht.
He used the boat's engine to continue out to sea where he thought weather conditions would be better, but sent an emergency beacon signal nine days later when he ran out of fuel.
“I thought I had a very good chance of getting back to Sydney without assistance, but after nine days I still couldn’t see the loom of Sydney, I couldn’t see any evidence of Sydney and I had no idea of my exact position, and it was at that point I set off the emergency position indicator radio beacon,” Ey said in the telephone interview.
The Canadian crew aboard a Boeing 777 en route from Vancouver to Sydney was asked by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to divert to the area to help find his exact location.
A crew member using binoculars borrowed from a passenger spotted the yacht Streaker.
That allowed Australian search officials to head to the location, some 500 kilometres from shore, to pick Ey up.
The sailor said he had heard an aircraft but was unaware it was looking for him.
A merchant vessel was the first to reach Ey on his yacht in the Pacific Ocean. The ship helped protect his smaller boat in strong sea and weather conditions until water police could reach him.
“Sea and weather conditions were challenging and the man had been drifting further and further out to sea. He can consider himself very lucky to be alive,” said Det.-Insp. Anthony Brazzill from the Marine Area Command.
Police were unable to tow Ey's yacht back to shore and left it drifting in the ocean. It will be salvaged at a later date, a police press release said.