Canadian rescued when boat breaks up off Australia

August 2, 2011 - 11:44 AM
Australia Yacht Rescue

In this Aug. 1, 2011 photo provided by the Australian Marine Safety Authority (AMSA), the Canadian-registered yacht Kekuli, piloted by Paul Lim, struggles in stormy waters about 155 miles (250 km) southwest of Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia. Lim, 62, ran into trouble when the engine on his yacht broke away as he battled 30-foot (9-meter) waves and winds gusting up to 55 miles (90 kilometers) per hour in the Southern Ocean, the AMSA said in a statement. The yacht broke apart and Lim was rescued on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, by the Panamanian bulk carrier Kohju, heading for the Canary Islands. (AP Photo/Australian Maritime Safety Authority)

SYDNEY (AP) — A Canadian sailor whose yacht broke apart in rough seas off southwest Australia was rescued Tuesday and is in good health aboard a ship heading for the Canary Islands.

Paul Lim, 62, ran into trouble when the engine on his yacht broke away as he battled 30-foot (9-meter) waves and winds gusting up to 55 miles (90 kilometers) per hour in the Southern Ocean, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in a statement.

Lim activated the emergency beacon on his 30-foot (9.5-meter) craft Monday and waited for help about 140 nautical miles southwest of Cape Leeuwin on Australia's southwestern tip.

A search-and-rescue helicopter dropped a radio, strobe light and life raft to Lim, and rescue officials sent out a broadcast to ships in the area while a surveillance plane circled his yacht until help arrived.

The Panamanian bulk carrier Kohju arrived Tuesday, and crew members worked six hours in rough seas to pull Lim to safety, the maritime authority said. He was not hurt and is continuing with Kohju's crew on to the Canary Islands, off northwest Africa.

Lim told ABC Radio from the Kohju he was surprised at the fast rescue response, and had also worried the emergency beacon might not work because the battery's expiry date was listed as 2002.

"I thought when I switched it on, maybe in a couple of days I might get a response if I'm lucky," he told ABC Radio. "It was kind of a desperate effort trying to avoid a catastrophe."

He abandoned his yacht to sink, as otherwise, "it's a disaster waiting to happen if someone runs into it," he said.

He said he knew he was taking a risk sailing through Southern Ocean this time of year, but wanted to get back to Canada quickly. Though accomplished in sailing solo, Lim said he would go with others in the future if again sailing on the ocean.