A father and daughter whose yacht capsized after being hit by a freak wave have revealed how they survived for hours in freezing temperatures and wild swells.
Glenn Anderson, 41, and his 11-year-old daughter Ruby were enjoying the holiday of a lifetime after setting sail on a 1,200km journey on the Western Australian coast in May.
The pair – along with three other crew members – had planned to sail north along the coastline from Rottnest Island to Sandy Cape but got into trouble near Jurien Bay.
A freak wave in 40 knot winds suddenly overpowered the 11.4m yacht, throwing the vessel sideways and forcing the entire crew to abandon the sinking ship.
After surviving for four hours in the ocean alone having become separated from their crewmates, the father and daughter were only saved after a rescuer become ill and had to go back to the shore – running into the pair on the way.
If they rescuer hadn’t got sick in the intense swells, lifesavers are convinced they would never have found the pair in that stretch of water.
Glenn Anderson and his 11-year-old daughter Ruby (pictured) have revealed how they survived for hours in freezing temperatures and wild swell after their yacht was hit by a freak wave
The pair – along with three other crew members – had set sail on a 1,200km trip along the coast from Rottnest Island to Sandy Cape but got into trouble just north of Jurien Bay, WA
Speaking of the moment he knew he’d lost control of the boat, Mr Anderson recalls seeing huge waves break out at sea – coming directly towards them.
‘It picked us up and we were facing down this wave, there was too much speed and power and it threw the boat sideways again’, he told 60 Minutes.
‘I knew I wasn’t in control of the situation at that point and next thing we’re in the water.’
Mr Anderson sustained a deep gash to his forehead during the fall while Ruby broke her left leg in two places after being thrown from the cockpit into the rough swell.
Luckily, the crew were able to secure life jackets and their emergency radio beacon during their tumble into the rough swell.
It took less than five minutes for the yacht to sink, with Ruby’s nine-month-old puppy Banjo tragically taken down with the vessel.
The group decided to separate after activating the IPERB, a decision Mr Anderson later came to regret after four agonising hours of treading in freezing water.
Mr Anderson sustained a deep gash to his forehead during the fall while Ruby broke her left leg in two places after being thrown from the cockpit into the rough swell
It took less than five minutes for the yacht to sink, with Ruby’s nine-month-old puppy Banjo (pictured) tragically taken down with the vessel
The brave father towed his daughter for 5km while desperately trying to keep her head above the water.
‘I did what any parent would do in that situation and tried to keep my child alive’, he said, adding that encouraging his daughter had helped him remain strong.
Meanwhile, Ruby was becoming hypothermic in the freezing temperatures, with her dad quickly noticing her purpled fingernails and progressively slurred speech.
‘He kept saying to me “you’re ok, we’re going to make it”,’ Ruby said.
The experienced sailor held his daughter tightly throughout the ordeal and instructed her on when she needed to hold her breath under the breaking waves.
Mr Anderson’s crew members – a 32-year-old man and two women aged 32 and 35 – were rescued first just before 2pm, two-and-a-half hours after the wave hit the boat.
It was another hour before Mr Anderson and his daughter were rescued by a fisheries vessel who picked them up just 200 metres from the shore.
Mr Anderson towed his daughter (pictured) for 5km while instructing her when to duck under the unrelenting breaking waves
Wayne (pictured), one of the rescuers onboard the fisheries vessel that saved Mr Anderson and his daughter’s life said their survival had been ‘a miracle’
Wayne, one of the rescuers onboard, revealed it had been a sheer stroke of luck that his crew had even spotted the pair, who had just been ‘two tiny dots’ on the horizon.
His boat had been forced to abandon the search after a crew member was severely seasick, locating the exhausted father and daughter on their way to shore – going in a direction they shouldn’t have been heading in.
‘We wouldn’t have found them,’ Wayne said.
‘We were heading in because one of my boys was very sick. It’s amazing.
‘It was a miracle I reckon. For him to hold that little girl up for so long and swim so far is quite incredible.’
Mr Anderson described his immense relief at seeing the boat and realising his injured daughter would soon receive the treatment she needed.
He said Ruby was barely able to speak to her rescuers, with paramedics struggling to get a temperature reading from her finger due to a complete lack of circulation.
‘They said I looked like a corpse when they pulled me out of the water,’ Ruby said, who was quickly transported to the Perth Children’s Hospital.
Jurien Bay police, an Australian Maritime Safety Authority jet and the RAC Rescue helicopter (pictured) were involved in the rescue efforts
Maritime authorities said the crew’s use of life-jackets and the emergency beacon had been crucial in their miraculous return to shore
Jurien Bay police, an Australian Maritime Safety Authority jet and the RAC Rescue helicopter were involved in the rescue efforts.
Maritime authorities said the crew’s use of life-jackets and the emergency beacon had been crucial in their safe return to shore.
Glenn has passed on his thanks to the first responders who saved his and his daughter’s lives and was recently reunited with Wayne and his crew.
‘It was the relief when I could say to Ruby, this is our boat, we’re getting on to this one’, he gratefully told his rescuers.
‘That’s when I knew we were definitely going to be okay.’