A solo sailor is alive thanks to a palm-sized piece of plastic, some planning and a rescue crew - and he has some advice for budding Far Northern sailors.
A solo sailor is alive thanks to a palm-sized piece of plastic, some planning and a rescue crew - and he has some advice for budding Far Northern sailors.

Adrift solo sailor saves his life with ‘cheap insurance’:

SOLO sailor Nigel Fox is alive thanks to a palm-sized piece of plastic and electronics, some forward planning and positive thinking.

The 55-year-old yachtsman was left adrift 93km northeast of the remote Northern Territory town of Nhulunbuy after he cut himself loose from his vessel in January 4.

In minutes he activated his GPS EPIRB.

"The little box of electronics saved my life," Mr Fox said at the Cobham base at Cairns Airport, in town to thank the rescue staff who found him.

"They gave me new lease on life."

 

Nigel Fox is located by a Cairns based search and rescue aircraft. Picture: AMSA
Nigel Fox is located by a Cairns based search and rescue aircraft. Picture: AMSA

 

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Cobham has a contract with the Austrailan Maritime Safety Authority to conduct search and rescue missions and it was a Cairns-based crew that spotted Mr Fox bobbing in the ocean wearing a bright yellow hooded life jacket.

"It would have been like spotting a tea bag in the MCG," Mr Fox said.

"If you are in the water, get yourself an EPIRB, register it, and have a reliable contact person."

 

Senior Constable Ben Parfitt, Nigel Fox, Constable Mark Carrington and Senior Constable Kelly Logan at Gove District Hospital after being rescued. Picture: NT Police
Senior Constable Ben Parfitt, Nigel Fox, Constable Mark Carrington and Senior Constable Kelly Logan at Gove District Hospital after being rescued. Picture: NT Police

 

He said the $380 device was "cheap life insurance."

"It could just save your life, it was money well spent," Mr Fox said.

Mr Fox was located after four to five hours adrift from his yacht and his cat Stinky, who was still aboard.

AMSA was able to pinpoint Mr Fox's location because he had kept a friend informed of his route.

 

 

Nigel Fox is rescued by police. Picture: NT Police
Nigel Fox is rescued by police. Picture: NT Police

 

 

He was pitched overboard in rough seas and left tangled face down in the yacht's lines, at risk of drowning in sea water.

"Gravity won," Mr Fox said.

"I was being pushed underwater - salt water dehydrates you and is corrosive to your lungs."

He cut himself free and was planning to climb back aboard when the life vest self inflated and pushed him away.

 

 

The search and rescue crew faced a challenging and tense task.

Aircraft mission co-ordinator Olly Marin said the sailor made their job infinitely easier.

"Thanks to his efforts in registering the EPIRB, we had a ton of information," Mr Marin said.

"He saved his own life."
The SAR crew found him after cameras on the aircraft detected the bright yellow vest and dropped Mr Fox a life raft.

"The tension in the aircraft picks up knowing there is someone in the water," Mr Marin said.

"We were pretty tensely watching until he was safely in the life raft."

 

 

Originally published as 'Cheap insurance': How adrift solo sailor saved his own life


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