I swam ten miles in the dark through a shark infested sea after falling off my boat while fishing – I thought I was going to die

AN Australian sailor told him so wild survival story after falling overboard in shark-infested waters and having to swim ten miles in the dark.

John Deer was stranded without a life jacket off the coast of Panama in an area known to locals as “Shark Point.”

John Deer sold all his belongings and bought a boat to sail the world

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John Deer sold all his belongings and bought a boat to sail the worldCredit: GoFundMe/Fou Ruesch
John lost his balance and fell into the shark-infested waters while fishing

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John lost his balance and fell into the shark-infested waters while fishingCredit: GoFundMe/Fou Ruesch

John, from Victoria, Australia, sold all his belongings in 2019 to sail around the world on a once-in-a-lifetime voyage.

He was sailing his yacht from Cartagena, Colombia, to the San Blas Islands in Panama – a 30-hour journey – when he lost his balance while dropping a fishing line.

The 40 foot boat named Julieta set sail on autopilot with the sails set and the engine running without him and John found himself alone.

“After talking many times to other sailors about how this is the worst thing that could happen, I suddenly found myself in the water, my boat and my home and safety sailing away from me at an alarming rate,” he wrote in one online post.

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“I was 9 nautical miles offshore – about 17 km. I wasn’t wearing a life jacket.

“I was convinced I was dead. Nobody knew I was there. It was 5 p.m. and the sun would be setting in an hour. as I watched my boat sail, gaining more and more distance with every passing second.”

With no other option but to swim, Deer made his way to shore as daylight faded.

When John’s survival instinct kicked in, he used the straight side of the moon as a navigational aid while it was visible, and then the stars.

The single-handed sailor began to wonder if he was making any progress at all, explaining that he felt he was making slow progress.

“I just had to keep going.”

However, encouragement soon turned to panic after the sailor felt something bite his feet.

“I panicked, thinking it was a shark, and I yelled and kicked and punched in all directions to scare it away. But again, I couldn’t afford to waste energy, so I decided to keep swimming at all costs.”

John added: “Luckily no shark, those damn fish stayed with me and bit me almost all the way to shore.”

John's boat Julieta was later found smashed on rocks

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John’s boat Julieta was later found smashed on rocksCredit: GoFundMe/Fou Ruesch
His boat sank and he was left with only the clothes he was wearing

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His boat sank and he was left with only the clothes he was wearingCredit: GoFundMe/Fou Ruesch

Police later told him that the spot where he fell from the boat was known locally as “Shark Point” because of the frequent sightings of predators there.

After a terrifying ten-hour swim, John touched rocks in the dim starlight. He had made it safely to shore.

“I felt the instant exhaustion of feeling my own weight and gravity for the first time in so many hours,” he said.

“I was running on pure adrenaline.”

John passed out on the sharp rocks and only woke up after what felt like 20 minutes.

The next morning, Deer found a stick to make a flag with his t-shirt.

The first passing boat could neither spot nor hear him, and the crew of the second waved but proceeded.

Eventually the third stopped and agreed to take him to a border town.

Unfortunately for John, the Panamanian police who found his crashed and sunken boat took him in for questioning.

Failure to salvage a boat can result in fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The sailor is currently stuck in Panama without any identification papers, and only his clothes fell into the water.

He said he feels “excitement and joy to be alive, to have survived mixed with the devastation of losing my floating home that has taken me halfway across the world for the past three years.”

Because the adventurer sold and then lost everything, one of Deer’s friends, Fou Ruesch, set up GoFundMe to raise funds to cover the cost of rescuing Julieta, getting his legal documents back, and traveling home to his family .

“At this point we have no idea what it will cost, but I know it’s not cheap and penalties can run into the hundreds if you don’t salvage a sunken boat [of] Thousands,” Ruesch wrote on the donation page.

“He’s stranded in a strange land with absolutely nothing left.”

For John, now comes the daunting task of dealing with the boat “which has transformed in an instant from my greatest asset into a tremendous liability”.

He added: “Most of all, I’m glad to be alive. And it’s been a hell of a tough journey so far.”

John Deer is supported by friends and family waiting for him to return home

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John Deer is supported by friends and family waiting for him to return homeCredit: GoFundMe/Fou Ruesch

https://www.the-sun.com/news/5540060/man-falls-water-swims-sharks-panama/ I swam ten miles in the dark through a shark infested sea after falling off my boat while fishing – I thought I was going to die

DevanCole

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