If you’re a surfer, you’ve likely experienced some variation of a rip current in your lifetime. You also likely know that the best way to escape such a situation is by paddling parallel to the shore, out of the rip current’s path. If this is news to you, make a mental note so you don’t end up like this man.

On Thursday, January 12th, a visiting Japanese surfer spent an alarming 16+ hours at sea after being pulled more than 3.5 miles offshore by a rip current from Bulli Beach, on Australia’s east coast. It all started when the man went for a surf by himself, soon finding himself caught in a rip. Inspector Darren Wood, from the Marine Area Command of New South Wales Police, said, “He was attempting to paddle back in for six hours before he ran out of energy and drifted at sea. It went dark and, being by himself, no one knew he was out there.”

Photo courtesy of MSC

The man would go on to spend the night drifting in the middle of the ocean with no food, water, or any bit of protection. Luckily for him, the crew of a container ship, the MSC Damla, would spot the man floating atop his yellow surfboard, toss him a life-buoy, and pull him aboard. After giving the man warm clothes and food, a life boat was called to take him ashore so he could be transported to Wollongong Hospital, where he was discharged the following day in good health and good spirits.

Moral of the story is, always surf with a friend, or at least let somebody know where you’re surfing. Always be aware of conditions in lineups that are unknown to you. And if you’re caught in a rip current, always paddle parallel to the shore.

Photo courtesy of MSC