A man who survived by eating seaweed and drinking rainwater when he capsized in the English Channel had been trying to kayak to Spain, according to his rescuers.
The mystery Brit was rescued by fishermen after he was found clinging to a buoy wearing only a pair of swimming shorts.
The 28-year-old was found on Thursday, shivering out at sea with no food, water or any protection from the elements.
Some reports say he had been clinging to the buoy for 48 hours and others say it was 12 days, but his rescuer, Dutch fisherman Tunis Van Luut, says the lad told him he had been at sea since October 15 and on the buoy for four.
The kayaker went on to say that he had been trying to paddle ‘to Spain’, before he ran out of energy and was unable to answer any more questions.
Tunis Van Luut, 41, skipper of French fishing vessel De Madelaine, spoke exclusively to The Mirror and explained the dramatic rescue.
He said: “We found the kayaker on Thursday at around 11 am, he wasn’t ok – we tried to speak to him but he was very bad.
“We were passing the buoy and I was on the watch because I was the skipper of the boat, I could see something and I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“I thought, ‘is it really true that I can see a person on it?’
“We got a little close to the buoy and I was calling my crew and I told them that I could see a person on the buoy, I gave him a shout on a loudspeaker to let him know that we can see him, and with his clothes, he made a flag to wave us down.”
The fisherman said he and his crew had been fishing for red gurnard, millets, and squid and had been at sea for three days when they came across the man.
Local reports say the fishermen had a bad catch in the morning and had ventured into the area where the man was found as a result and that they would usually have avoided the area.
The skipper added that the conditions were so bad that they couldn’t get close enough to the buoy to jump on board, so hard to find another way to get the Brit to safety.
He continued: “At that time, we were moving slowly to the buoy and we made a life buoy ready for him and a life jacket and we threw him a line, so he could put a life jacket on, but his condition was so bad it was impossible for him to do that.
“One of my crew members put a life vest by him, one metre from the buoy, and he jumped straight for it.
“We pulled him on board and picked him up on the deck, it was not possible for him to stand so we had two crew members on either side pick him up.
“He needed water and he was drinking a lot, and I asked him who are you and how is it possible that you are here on this buoy without your clothes, just your swimming shorts – there was nothing else.
“We took temperatures of him, he was 26 degrees. I called the coastguard because he needed assistance, and he had to be taken directly to the hospital. In ten minutes he was picked up.”
Tunis tried to ask the man who he was or where he came from, but he soon discovered that the Brit was too weak to talk.
He continued: “We asked him, ‘what time did you depart’ and he said it was October 15 from Dover in a kayak. We asked when he had the accident, but his condition was so bad and I could see that his eyes were very deep in his head and he had a lot of blue veins on his head and arms.
“I think it’s not possible to give an answer for how long he was there, he was 12 days at sea but how long he was on the buoy we don’t know. When it was raining he was drinking rainwater, maybe four or five days on the buoy. I don’t know exactly. I think four days.
“He is very lucky to be alive, he was full of spirit to be alive – I could see in his eyes, he was so happy to see us, he took us in his arms, when he was coming on board I could see his conditions was finished, he had nothing left to give.
“I tried to give him some questions but it was not possible for his condition to answer, he tried to answer but he would go silent.
“He told me he wanted to go to Spain, but I said that is stupid because of the distance – it’s too far. That’s what he told us, he departed on Oct 15 from Dover and his plan was that he was going to Spain. I asked if he had family and he said he didn’t have family.”
After the man was pulled on board, Tunis realised that he needed urgent medical attention so he called the coastguard who flew out to collect him.
Just eight minutes later they arrived and winched the kayaker to safety, and a video shows him waving in appreciation to his rescuers as he’s whisked away.
But because it happened so fast, Tunis was unable to get the man’s name and as a result, he was unable to find out his condition from the hospital.
He continued: “Yesterday one of my crew members called the hospital and asked because we were his crew, but we didn’t even know his name so we couldn’t find out. He said he was 28.”
As we reported on Thursday, the man was found clinging to a buoy after his kayak capsized in the English Channel.
The 28-year-old kayaker had reportedly survived “for days” in the middle of the ocean eating only seaweed and mussels.
He had allegedly left Dover almost two weeks ago to try and cross the English Channel, before things took a turn for the worse.
After his kayak capsized, he was left battling for his life and eventually found by the crew of cutter ship De Madelaine’.
The captain grabbed a pair of binoculars and saw the exhausted and terrified Brit, dressed just in swimming trunks “waving at us like a madman”, according to De Telegraaf .
The crew were able to save him quickly despite the choppy weather and the man managed to use what strength he had left to reach out for help.
The exhausted Brit was rescued from the sea and offered some water and a Snickers chocolate bar.
He had reportedly suffered severe hypothermia when he was brought onboard with a body temperature of just 26C – which could be lethal.
As the rescued man recovered, he told the crew his story – how he tried to kayak the channel before capsizing and clinging to the floating buoy for life.