Passengers on Air Canada Flight AC033 en route to Sydney had their course diverted on Monday to look for a lone Australian yachtsman in trouble. The pilot was contacted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority after an emergency beacon was detected at 8am on Monday.
The Boeing dropped to 4000 feet to get a better look. Luckily, some passengers had brought binoculars on board in their hand luggage and they scanned the dark ocean for any sign of life. Then, around midnight, they spotted him, around 300 miles off the coast of Sydney. Passengers cheered when told that a rescue plan was under way.
Glenn Ey set off last week from Pittwater en route to Eden but got into trouble when his mast broke in three pieces during a raging storm. "A huge wave came along and picked me up and just rolled me over" he said.
A passenger on board later wrote on Facebook "15 hour flight ends up being 17 hours as we descended to 4000 ft to locate a capsized yacht for search and rescue" the passenger wrote. "Amazing and slightly off-putting when not on autopilot and flying/circling low over the ocean. Found the boat thanks to people who brought binoculars in their carry-on (yup, 6-7 sets on board) and we are now home safely."
Once again, an IPIRB saves a life. Experienced yachtsman Stephen Hocking said "We're told the EPIRB is the absolute last resort when we're out on the water, he must have been in real trouble and would have tried absolutely everything before setting it off, either that or he's an idiot."
Glenn Ey and his mother Colleen
Mr Ey had high praise for the men who rescued him. "These guys had been motoring flat-out for 12 hours to get to me, they must have been exhausted ...... huge seas, strong winds, difficult scenario and they went to work, I've tried to tell all of them they've been absolutely brilliant and I more than appreciate it."
But once back on solid ground, he had only one thing in mind. "I'd like to go to a bakery and get a custard tart and a milkshake" he said.