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Saved by an improvised life raft

NOV. 8 — Three fishermen out for a few laughs and drinks on Oct. 3 found themselves floating 12 hours in the Pacific Ocean after their $63,000 fishing boat sank two miles southeast of an island in Australia’s Halifax Bay, according to a news report published in The Scotsman.

Fortunately, they had their beer chest — commonly called an “Esky” after Australia’s most popular brand of ice cooler.

Because their flares, EPIRBs and navigation equipment all went down with the boat, the trio held onto the Esky and reportedly used the lid as a sail to reach the nearest shore, Bushland Beach, which they pinpointed by lining up lights.

“Even though RattlesnakeIsland was closer, I knew if we missed it due to the currents, we would be lost forever at sea,” said skipper Garry Fleming in the news report.

The lid caught the wind and pulled them toward shore, where the men dragged themselves up onto the beach. Local forecasters said the men were fortunate because there had been the smallest tide of the month and perfect currents to carry them to their destination, according to a news report.

While Fleming would like to find his old boat, he’s already thinking of buying another and naming it Survivor, according to the news report.

“For the past 30 years that I’ve gone out to sea, I’ve always had a big Esky in the boat,” stated Fleming in the report. “My thought has always been, ‘If anything goes wrong, there will a box to hold onto.’ And on Saturday night, it happened.”

The Esky floated away after saving its owners, and Fleming encourages anyone who finds it to return it to him.

— Elizabeth Ellis