Solo sailor, 66, lost after his stricken yacht was hit by a violent storm is recovered after 78 days lost at sea.
Stig Lundvall found 350 miles off South Africa's coast. He had left the UK on January 30 to sail to Australia
A sailor has been rescued after he spent 78 days lost at sea during a disaster-hit solo voyage from Britain to Australia, it emerged today.
Stig Lundvall, 66, was found drifting in the Indian Ocean near South Africa last week, almost three months after a violent storm in January during which his 26ft yacht's mast was destroyed.
The Swedish sailor spent more than 11 weeks stranded at sea without communications following the mishap, which happened on January 30 as he attempted to sail from Falmouth in Cornwall to Australia.
Enlarge After 80 days alone at sea in a yacht with a broken mast, 66-year-old Swedish yachtsman Stig Lundvall was rescued by a Greek ship.
The rescued boatman told of his relief after he was spotted last Tuesday by a Greek ship as floated around 350 miles off South Africa's coastline.
In an interview with the country's Cape Times newspaper, Mr Lundvall said he was down to his last 10 litres of drinking water and had just one emergency flare on board when he spotted the lights of the ship in the distance.
He said: 'I had to wait until the last moment. At first I thought the ship didn't see me because it was still passing by.
'But it was a big ship and it is slow to stop. Then I saw it had stopped. It was a good feeling.'
Mr Lundvall described how he became stranded on his yacht following a violent thunder storm which smashed his mast.
He told the Cape Times he believed he was around 450 nautical miles from South Africa when the freak weather left him without power or communications. Stig had just 10 litres of water left and only one more emergency flare when he saw the lights of a ship in the distance
Stig's boat was hit by a violent storm which smashed his mast off the coast off South Africa
He said: 'It was a very heavy storm that blew up quite quickly in the middle of the night, actually at 3am.
'I was awake because it was impossible to sleep because of the noise.
'I thought it was raining, but it was the spray from the waves against the boat.'
The sailor said he was stranded for several days without any power after his mast was damaged before he eventually managed to rig up an emergency sail. The sailor knew the ship would never see his tiny craft a nautical mile away on the dark night sea. He was not even sure it would see his flare
The temporary structure helped him get more control of his yacht but he was still unable to navigate properly.
He added: 'With that I could do a little bit of sailing. It took me one or two weeks to get a course but mainly it was just the currents that took me.'
Mr Lundvall said last week's encounter with the Greek ship was the third time since the accident that a boat had sailed within sight of his stricken yacht.
He had left the UK in early January with three emergency flares on board but used two of them in the hope the earlier boast would rescue him.
On both occasions the vessels had failed to spot his signals, leaving him with just one final chance of being rescued.
The brave sailor described how he waited until the last moment last week as the ship passed in the distance before setting off the flare.
The Greek vessel then turned around and picked him up.
Following the rescue Mr Lundvall, from the town of Vasteras west of Stockholm, was taken to the eastern South African port of Richard's Bay.
He later flew to Cape Town and has since returned to Sweden.
He told the Cape Times that during his ordeal he had lost around three stone (20kg) in weight - most of which was muscle.
Stig said he was stranded for several days without any power after his mast was damaged before he eventually managed to rig up an emergency sail
The experienced sailor said he managed to stay alive only by rationing his food and by collecting rain water in buckets on deck.
He added: 'I am skin and bone. Normally I am 85kg and I was 65kg when I got on to the ship.
'I am very weak still, I will need to build my strength again and my balance is not so good. I can look drunk when I walk.'
The newspaper reported that Mr Lundvall had been on a solo voyage to Australia when his Marieholm yacht Sea Star was immobilised by the storm.
One of the sailor's worried friends contacted South African marine rescuers in February after he failed to arrive in port on schedule.
A spokesman for the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Cape Town today confirmed the organisation led a three-month search for the missing yacht.
After six weeks they alerted their colleagues in Britain, Australia and New Zealand after failing to find Mr Lundvall.
The spokesman confirmed he was eventually brought back to dry land on April 17, 78 days after his ordeal began.
Mr Lundvall was today recovering at home in Sweden.
Asked whether he would sail again, he replied: 'Oh yes. But not long distance. Never again across oceans.
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