The captain of an Antarctic cruise ship diverted to rescue a stricken yachtsman in the remote Southern Ocean has described how passengers cheered when Alain Delord was plucked from the sea.
After three days adrift on a life raft Mr Delord, a 63-year-old round-the-world yachtsman, was rescued by the Orion about 500 nautical miles south-west of Hobart on Sunday night.
The Orion's captain, Mike Taylor, said at first the vessel's 100 passengers on their once-in-a- lifetime trip to Macquarie Island were "massively disappointed" about being diverted.
"But there was a cheer you could hear right over the ship when we pulled him in through the door," Captain Taylor said yesterday.
Captain Taylor said the ship was about 680 miles south of Mr Delord when he was contacted by the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Canberra.
"(The rescue centre) called us and said we're Johnny on the spot pretty much," he said.
"It took us a full 53 hours to get from where we were to him."
He said the conditions in which Mr Delord was rescued were as extreme as he had experienced and without the help of the rescue centre the Orion would never have found him.
"It was unbelievable how difficult he was to see," he said.
A spokeswoman for the the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said Mr Delord was getting medical attention and appeared to be in good health.