A French sailor was rescued in the rough Atlantic on Tuesday after spending 16 hours in his capsized sailboat. The 62-year-old, who'd set sail on his 40-foot vessel from Lisbon on Sunday morning, was 14 miles from the Sisargas Islands off Spain's northwestern Galicia region when he sent out a distress signal around 8:23pm local time Monday, per the BBC. After a helicopter located his capsized vessel around nightfall, a rescue ship carrying five divers arrived and got confirmation the man alive (he banged on the hull from the inside). But as the night was too dark and the sea too choppy for a rescue, the divers could only attach buoyancy balloons to the boat, dubbed the Jeanne Solo Sailor, and hope the man could survive the night.
His survival was "verging on the impossible," said coastguard divers, per the BBC. But the next morning, divers found the man alive in an air pocket inside the boat, submerged in water up to his knees and wearing a neoprene survival suit. "Of his own initiative, he got into the water and free dived out, helped by the divers who had to pull him through because it was difficult for him to get out in his suit," a member of the coastguard's special operations team said, per Sky News. The outlet reports he was airlifted to a hospital but "released soon afterwards with no issues." "Each life saved is our biggest reward," Spain's Maritime Safety and Rescue Society said in a tweet that included video footage of the feat. (Read more rescue stories.)