Random Happenings: Scottish Surfer Survives 32 Hours At Sea

Pulled 13 miles off the Argyll Coast by rip current

In January, we reported on the story of a Japanese surfer who was devilishly yanked by a rip current off Australia’s east coast and pulled three-and-a-half miles offshore. He spent more than 16 hours at sea, with little more than his trunks and his yellow board, which luckily was bright enough to be spotted by crew members of the marine unit of NSW police. It was a reminder of the unassuming dangers of rips, and how the maxims we were taught as young swimmers (“Don’t go out alone in a rippy area”; “Swim parallel to the shore,” etc.) seem so simple as to be commonsense, until you’re the one who’s cold and alone in open ocean, exhausted, drifting out to sea.

On Monday, a Glasgow surfer was found alone and hypothermic nearly 13 miles (yes, 13) off Scotland’s western coast after he was dragged by a rip – those airport moving walkways from hell – and cast off for 32 hours (yes, 32) into the frigid North Atlantic according to the BBC.

Matthew Bryce, 22, was surfing Scots Beach off the Argyll coast around 11:30 AM UTC on Sunday, presumably alone, before the rip carried him away. His family and friends began to worry as the day stretched on without a word from him, and a coastal search was soon issued. Bryce was found on his bright orange board by the Belfast Coast Guard at 7:30 PM UTC the following day, barely conscious but alive nonetheless. He was quickly airlifted to a Belfast hospital and is in recovery.

A Coast Guard member said that Bryce was right to stay with his surfboard, and that the floatation likely saved his life.

“He was [also] kitted out with all the right clothing, including a thick neoprene suit,” said the Coast Guard’s Dawn Petrie. [It] must have helped him to survive for so long at sea.”