A sailor who sparked a massive air and sea search off Sydney's northern beaches told authorities he swam to shore after falling off his yacht, and then caught a taxi home, oblivious to the massive operation that had been launched to find him.
Police on Tuesday are expected to interview the man, whose yacht was discovered floating about 18 kilometres out to sea off Barrenjoey Headland just after 4pm on Monday.
A passing vessel raised the alarm after discovering the seven-metre Etchells yacht, which appeared to have no one on board.
A NSW Police spokeswoman said a Marine Area Command vessel went out to the yacht, and confirmed no one was on board.
Fearing someone on the vessel may have fallen overboard, emergency services launched an immediate search of the surrounding ocean.
The search involved two water police vessels, two marine rescue vessels, an air ambulance helicopter and the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.
They searched the area for hours, but did not find anyone.
A NSW Police spokeswoman said, just after 8pm, the sailor confirmed with emergency services that he was safe and at home.
"He said he had been thrown out of the vessel when he was 300 metres off Macmasters Beach on the Central Coast. He swam to shore, hailed a taxi and got home," the spokeswoman said.
It was unclear when exactly he fell into the water, and why he did not immediately alert emergency services about his yacht, which drifted out to sea. The man was not injured in the incident, police said.
Emergency services were not able to immediately salvage the yacht due to dangerous weather conditions.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has been alerted, as the yacht is now a shipping hazard, police said.
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Source : SYDNEY MORNING HERALD