Ey says his 11m vessel was smashed by a wave, snapping his mast, and that he had spent nine of his 14 days at sea trying to get back to shore before he ran out of fuel and set off his emergency beacon, calling for help.
The 44-year-old said the impact of the wave sounded ‘like an explosion’.
‘It’s undeniable when a massive wave picks you up and turns you over,’ he said on Channel Seven’s Sunrise program.
‘I don’t think there’s any one who would deny being concerned and you do think your numbers up for a while there.’
Ey was stranded too far out for helicopters to risk flying out, so the Australian Maritime Safety Authority asked an Air Canada jet to fly by the yacht’s GPS coordinates to confirm its position.
The pilot, Captain Andrew Robertson, told Fairfax Media that he asked passengers to look out the windows for the boat. Cabin crew also borrowed binoculars to aid in the search.
‘As we closed in on the area the first officer said, “Well I see what I think is the boat,”’ Captain Robertson told Fairfax Media.
‘It was almost exactly where they told us it would be.’
Ey said the coordination of the rescue, which also involed an Air New Zealand plane which later confirmed his position, an AMSA search and rescue craft, a merchant ship which protected him from the wind and a police boat which battled rough seas to collect him, was ‘more than fantastic’.
‘I did hear the jet,’ he said . ‘But it wasn’t until the air sea rescue plane flew over the top of me, and I heard, that I realised that they found me.’
Up until the point he was on board the police boat, Ey had hoped to simply refuel his boat and make his way back to Sydney, but he didn’t realise how far off course he’d strayed.
‘I wasn’t afraid until I knew where I was,’ he said.
‘I didn’t realise at that point I was so far off land.
‘I plotted my position and rather than being 60 or 70 miles from the coast I was 270 miles from the coast.
‘I’d been at sea 14 days, and been trying to get back to Sydney for nine days.’
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