A major air and sea search was carried out along the Barrenjoey Headland in New South Wales, Australia after the abandoned Etchells yacht was found

A sailor who went overboard, swam ashore and caught a taxi home has said he had no idea a massive search and rescue operation was underway to find him.

The man was sailing off the Barrenjoey Headland, New South Wales, when he fell off his Etchells Yacht at around 1600 on 23 January 2017.

The alarm was raised after the abandoned vessel was discovered by the crew of a passing boat, around 10 nautical miles off the coast.

The New South Wales Police were informed and a major air and sea search got underway.

It involved officers from Marine Area Command, Marine Rescue and the Air Ambulance.

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A spokesman for New South Wales Police said that at around 2000, officers were informed that the missing skipper had been found safe and well.

“Police were told the man was wearing a life jacket and was able to swim to shore after falling overboard. He later made his own way home,” said the spokesman.

It was later reported that the sailor caught a taxi home, unaware of the search and rescue operation to find him.

Due to dangerous weather conditions, the emergency services were unable to salvage the Etchells yacht.

It has now been reported as a shipping hazard to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.