AN Australian sailor clinged onto a beacon for three hours NAKED after a wave knocked him off his boat in the Pacific Ocean.
David Simpson, 64, was forced to use his swimming shorts to attract attention after being thrown from his yacht while sailing off the eastern coast of Queensland.
Simpson, an experienced boater, had been trying to secure a dinghy to the back of the boat when the rope holding it broke.
He said the dinghy was thrown into him by the waves and he was pushed off the deck and into the water.
He was then swept away from the 13-metre boat, its engine still running and his Staffordshire terrier, Mitch, on board.
Speaking to 9News.com.au about the ordeal, Simpson said: “I was concerned I wasn’t going to be around for my family more than anything.”
I took my shorts off and was waving them. Maybe that’s why nobody stopped – because I was naked
He said he swam for around half a mile until he found a cardinal marker beacon and was able to get onto it.
“They had a ladder about a metre up and I waited for a wave and managed to put by hands up,” he said.
The alarm was raised after the yacht was spotted being washed towards the shore by local coastguards, and an air and sea search was launched.
On the beacon, Simpson was trying desperately to attract the attention of passing vessels.
“I took my shorts off and was waving them. Maybe that’s why nobody stopped – because I was naked,” he said.
When the sun began to go down, the light on the beacon automatically switched on, so Simpson began trying to use it to send an SOS signal.
Eventually the signal was spotted by a cargo ship.
Footage shot from a rescue helicopter shows Simpson stood along on the small deck of the beacon.
The rescue came three hours after the boat was found and 1.5 miles from where it ran aground.
Attempts by the coastguard to get the grounded boat back out to sea are said to be ongoing.
Speaking to the Today show, Mooloolaba Coast Guard commander Ian Hunt said Simpson was lucky to be alive.
“He’s a very lucky man to be able to get to that beacon,” he said.