A TWEED Heads fisherman said “adrenalin and just sheer determination” helped him survive a marathon six-hour swim.
Andrew Wilson spent yesterday resting with loved ones after swimming a remarkable 8km on Tuesday afternoon and into the night.
The 25-year-old was fishing at Nine Mile Reef, located about 6km off the Tweed Coast, when he was washed overboard by a rogue wave and his runabout powered on without him at about 3pm.
Marine Rescue Point Danger’s Carmel Jones, who was a controller during the massive air and sea search operation, described Mr Wilson’s survival story as extraordinary.
“Miracles do happen,” Mrs Jones said.
“Lucky he was a strong swimmer.”
Police only realised Mr Wilson was missing when his unmanned boat was spotted circling off Kirra Beach on Tuesday afternoon.
“We sent the boat out about 5.30pm and were assisted by NSW and Queensland police,” Mrs Jones said.
“There were two water police boats, helicopters and two young friends of the man searching.
“They called the search off about 9pm when we couldn’t see anything.”
Without a lifejacket and in extremely tough currents, Mr Wilson swum about 8km, clambering ashore over rocks and oysters at Fingal Head.
“The currents last (Tuesday) night were awfully strong,” Mrs Jones said.
“He might have been caught in the strong southerly current.”
About 10.30pm he knocked at a Fingal house where he was assisted by a stranger.
Mr Wilson told Nine News he made it back to shore through a combination of “adrenalin and just sheer determination”.
“I spoke to my mother late last night when I got to that lady’s house and I said there was only going to be one outcome,” he said.
“I wasn’t going to stop so I just kept going.
“I was starving, so I was looking forward to getting home and having a feed.”
Tweed Police Inspector Darren Steel said Mr Wilson was taken to the Tweed Hospital with minor cuts and abrasions and mild hypothermia.
Mr Wilson spent yesterday resting and visiting family members, Insp Steel said.
“Obviously, he was fairly exhausted after swimming for what we believe would be over six hours,” Insp Steel said.
“He was a strong swimmer and was obviously quite physically fit to have continued on for such a long time.”
Insp Steel urged boat users to always let family and friends know of their plans.
“So, if you are overdue, the flag goes up,” he said.
“The incident certainly highlights the benefits of wearing a lifejacket or personal floatation device, particularly if you’re by yourself.”