Couple Survives Two Days Adrift on Paddleboard In Shark-Infested Waters

“No-one even knew they were gone or missing.”

A fisherman in Queensland, Australia, was shocked to find two stranded people close to drowning in the water near his boat on Monday night (January 9). Lorne Benussi was preparing to call it a night after a day of fishing with his father off Cape Capricorn, 300 miles north of Brisbane when he heard screaming and yelling from the water. Benussi realized two people were treading water in the shark-infested ocean and were close to collapse. Here's how they ended up in such a dangerous predicament.

1
Strange Sounds

Shutterstock

Benussi was anchoring his boat for the night near a sandbar on Camp Island when he heard something that stopped him in his tracks, UK Times reports. Desperate pleas for help were coming from the open water. To his surprise, a couple were floating past the boat, barely staying above water.

2
Treading Water

Shutterstock

Benussi was shocked at the sight, especially as they were in the middle of a storm. "We turned all the lights on and saw a young couple floating past in the tide… they were only treading water. They had no board or anything," Benussi told ABC News Australia. "They were very lucky. They even said a lot of boats went past them and they were yelling out and screaming out, waving their arms around, but no one saw them."

3
Lucky Escape

Shutterstock

Benussi got into a dinghy and went to help the pair. "When we picked them off, it was blowing probably 20 to 25 knots, pouring rain, and then the bar is very shallow coming out of Yellow Patch. We just got [them] in the dinghy and dragged them over the side… they just collapsed in the dinghy."

Benussi says they were rescued just in time. "They just collapsed, they could hardly move. They were just absolutely buggered, the pair of them. The bloke, he must have drunk a bit of saltwater. He was sort of cramping and very broken. I gave them cordial, trying to get their sugars up . . . they were up and down all night trying to get water."

4
Stranded At Sea

Google Maps

The couple told him they had been paddleboarding off North West Island, 35 miles east of where Benussi found them. They were swept away from the island by the tide, and at some point lost their paddleboards. "They were just drifting around the ocean for a few days," Benussi said. "No-one even knew they were gone or missing, because they weren't due to be picked up until the following Tuesday."

5
"Lucky For Them"

Shutterstock

Benussi says the couple, who are in their 40s and from Brisbane, were lucky to have drifted towards the mainland and not into the ocean. "A bit of north-easterly wind and the stronger currents… pulled them back towards Cape Capricorn, which is very lucky for them," Benussi said.

He waited until daybreak to take them back to shore. "We didn't want to risk trying to cross the bar in the middle of the night and running aground ourselves," he said. "If you were just floating in the water with no lifejacket or nothing on and you make it more than 36 hours, you got to buy some Lotto tickets."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
Filed Under
 •