62-year-old French man survives 16 hours inside capsized boat by using air bubble

Coast guard officials say the sailor’s survival was ‘verging on impossible’

Sravasti Dasgupta
Thursday 04 August 2022 09:35 BST

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A French sailor has survived a 16-hour ordeal inside his capsized boat by using an air bubble.

The 62-year-old sailor had sent out a distress signal on Monday evening from his 12m-long boat, the Jeanne Solo Sailor, which had set out from Portugal’s Lisbon.

The call was sent out 22.5km off the Sisargas Islands near Spain’s north-west Galicia region.

Spain’s coastguard found the sailing boat face down in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean at a point when the agency’s officials said the sailor’s survival was “verging on impossible”.

A rescue ship carrying five divers and three helicopters were deployed to aid the man, who has not yet been named.

The sailor’s upturned vessel was discovered by one of the helicopters as the sun was setting, according to BBC News.

A diver was sent down to look for the sailor who banged from the inside of the vessel to inform rescuers that he was alive.

He was found wearing a neoprene survival suit and submerged in water up to his knees.

The sailor had to wait until morning to be rescued because the sea was rough on Monday night.

Rescue officials attached buoyancy balloons to the boat to stop it from sinking into the freezing waters and waited until the morning.

The next morning, two divers swam under the boat to help free the sailor.

“Of his own initiative he got into the water and freedived out, helped by the divers who had to pull him through because it was difficult for him to get out in his suit,” Vicente Cobelo, a member of the coastguard’s special operations team, told Spanish media.

The sailor was subsequently airlifted to safety and taken to hospital. He was discharged soon after with no medical issues.

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