Overboard Fisherman Survives Shark-Infested Waters, 7-Hour Swim
When you get knocked overboard without a life jacket five miles from land, you do what Australian fisherman Andy Wilson did Tuesday.
You think of your fiancée, tell yourself “I’m not dying out here,” and you start swimming.
That’s how Wilson survived a six- or seven-hour swim (depending on the source) through shark-infested waters off the Southern Gold Coast of Australia.
A rogue wave knocked Wilson overboard. When authorities discovered his boat abandoned at sea, a massive search ensued. Wilson wasn’t about to wait for help. Strong currents were pushing him farther out to sea.
“I thought I’d be able to stop and be able to float and get some energy back, but if I stopped for 30 seconds it would take me straight back out to sea,” Wilson told the AP.
“There was only going to be one outcome — I wasn’t going to stop, so I just kept going. Adrenaline and just sheer determination.”
Determination, indeed. Simon Deane, a close friend of Wilson’s, told the Courier Mail that Wilson was driven by his love for his fiancée, Katie.
Wilson endured painful jellyfish bites, muscle cramps, rough seas and an encounter with a shark, which bumped him hard on the leg. Wilson saw a shark three or four yards ahead of him.
“It wasn’t a big shark, but he knew it was a shark because of his experience as a fisherman,” Deane told the Morning Herald.
Twice, one boat passed close to him. Alas, Wilson waved but those on the boat couldn’t see him, so he kept swimming.
When he made it to shore at Fingal, Wilson was pummeled about the barnacle-encrusted rocks until he finally reached the beach and collapsed.
He slept for 20 minutes before he knocked on a stranger’s door and called Katie.
“He’s a very lucky and relieved boy,” Deane said.
Photo of the boat from the Gold Coast Bulletin