When yachtsman Glenn Ey set off his emergency beacon while stranded in rough seas, with a broken mast and no fuel, he didn't think he was too far offshore.
A rescue aircraft told him his position on Tuesday morning and he tracked it on a map to find he was actually 270 nautical miles - or 500 kilometres - east of Sydney.
"I plotted my position and rather than being 60 or 70 miles, I was 270 miles from the coast.
Glenn Ey ... had no idea he was so far away. Photo: NSW police
"It was extraordinary, I couldn't believe it. I wasn't afraid until I knew where I was."
The 44-year-old Queenslander returned to shore about 3am today with his rescuers from NSW Police, and he was met by his emotional parents.
Mr Ey set off from Pittwater on October 4 to sail to Eden, on the NSW south coast, but hit a storm more than a week ago.
Glenn Ey was rescued after being stranded at sea in his yacht. Photo: Australian Maritime Safety Auth
His 11-metre yacht Streaker flipped and his mast snapped.
"One second you're here and the next second you've been rammed into the roof and the next second you've been dropped back onto the floor," he told reporters this morning.
"And the noise is unbelievable, like a mast doesn't crack without any noises, [it was] like an explosion."
Mr Ey did some repairs and tried to head towards Sydney using the motor, but ran out of fuel.
"At some stage I thought I would hit land ... (but) every night I would look and there was just no indication of Sydney."
He set off his beacon about 8am on Tuesday, which sent his GPS location to emergency services.
"I was stuck in this current which explains why I couldn't get back to the coast.
"I now realise I was 270 miles out from the coast."
NSW Police boat Nemesis reached Mr Ey early yesterday morning, after a dramatic search and rescue operation, involving two commercial planes and a merchant vessel.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority asked two international flights to divert to his location according to the GPS on his beacon.
The pilot of an Air Canada Boeing 777 flight from Vancouver, Captain Andrew Robertson, said his plane flew down to 1524 metres, while the crew and passengers used binoculars to search for Mr Ey.
They saw the yacht and the captain confirmed his location, before an Air New Zealand A320, flying from Auckland, later checked on his position.
AMSA search and rescue aircraft, Dornier, arrived at noon and reported the yacht had been de-masted and was low on fuel.
A merchant ship, ANL Benalla, pulled up alongside the yacht in the late afternoon to protect it from strong winds until Nemesis arrived and he was helped on board.
Wild weather stopped police from being able to tow his yacht back, so warnings have been issued to all ships in the area.
Mr Ey and his family thanked his rescuers.
"These guys have been extraordinary. Australia is very fortunate to have people like this, honestly it's amazing."
His mother Colleen said: "It’s a great ending for us. This is what we prayed for.
"We just want to thank everyone who has been involved with the search and rescue because they have been absolutely wonderful."
Detective Inspector Anthony Brazzill from the Marine Area Command said nine police battled rough conditions to rescue Mr Ey.
He said it was a good example of how emergency beacons can save lives and he encouraged recreational sailors to buy one.
“It is an adventure he will certainly remember.
“Sea and weather conditions were challenging and [he] had been drifting further and further out to sea. He can consider himself very lucky to be alive.
“It's been a long and tiring journey and I am sure he is looking forward to having a proper meal, a hot shower and seeing his friends and family."
smh.com.au and AAP