Video: Man thrown overboard survives 6-hour swim

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 2/16/2011 4:42:44 AM ET 2011-02-16T09:42:44

A fisherman who was knocked overboard by a rogue wave survived a six-hour swim to shore without a lifejacket, Australian police said.

Officials said they realized the man was missing when someone spotted his unmanned boat with the engine still running Tuesday off the Gold Coast, south of the Queensland capital of Brisbane.

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Tweed Heads Police Inspector Darren Steel told Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Wednesday that the man's boat was hit by a large wave, knocking him overboard.

The boat kept going without him, so he was forced to make the 4.7-mile swim to shore.

Police Inspector Geoff Palmer told ABC News Australia that the fisherman's physical fitness and familiarity with the area likely helped him.

"Knowing the waters in the area — the tides run very quickly — and there's known to be sharks in that area, so he is a very lucky man," he told the network.

A friend told ABC that the 25-year-old fisherman was injured as he tried to get onto the land.

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"He said he couldn't have picked a worse place to land on the beach because there wasn't much beach — it was just all rock and oysters," Simon Dean told the network. "He's cut to pieces from hanging on to rocks."

The man told Dean that the waves battered him against the rocks about a dozen times before he could get enough of a grip to pull himself up.

"It wasn't real pleasant out there," Dean said.

After making it to land, he knocked on a stranger's door for help.

Dean told ABC News Australia that his friend went overboard at about 1:00 p.m. Tuesday.

"We were out there searching at about five o'clock for him and the weather did start to get a little bit better, but probably the weather is what helped save him with the south-easterly breeze blowing," he told ABC. "It sort of helped push him against the current towards the shore."

Steel said the man was treated at a hospital and released.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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