MANGALURU: One moment, 40-year-old was sitting by himself on a deep sea trawler boat that was returning to the shore after fishing. The weather was rough and the fisherman was holding on to his seat. The next moment, he was floating in the sea off the , the water carrying away his unmoving body far away from his boat and his colleagues. Nagarajan didn’t panic, he focused on keeping his hands and legs beating. And that is how he lived to tell the tale of a man who swam for seven hours and made it out alive.
Around 20 nautical miles (40km) off Panambur beach, 10km from Mangaluru, a UAE-bound merchant ship came to his rescue.

It was around 10.30am on Thursday (August 16) when Nagarajan apparently blacked out and fell into the sea. He, of course, has no memory of what happened. The trawler was tipping on the water mid-sea and the other fishermen were perched on their seats elsewhere. It was only after a good half an hour that they realised Nagarajan was missing. Though from , Nagarajan had settled in Mangaluru for over 20 years and was working for , a fish merchant and boat owner.

As soon as the news went out, the fishermen mobilised 35 deep sea fishing boats and headed out to search for Nagarajan. They returned empty-handed after three hours. There was no sign of Nagarajan; if you don’t find a man in the sea in three hours, he is no more, goes a saying among fisherfolk.

Soon after falling in, Nagarajan came to and found himself floating, going where the current took him – far away from the trawler. “He could see three boats moving away from him. Though he tried, he could not draw their attention,” Salian told TOI.

Sea creatures were pricking his head and running along his body but Nagarajan kept beating his hands and legs in a desperate attempt to save himself. “Nagarajan told me that some of the boats returned after one-and-a-half hours with a hope to find him. However, the water currents along the west were strong that he had swum way farther than they could imagine,” Salian said. Nagarajan was just a few kilometres from the rescue boats but they did not spot him. Undeterred, Nagarajan kept swimming and around 6pm, saw a merchant vessel passing the shipping lanes off the west coast. They rescued him and ed the New Mangalore Port authority.

Captain SR Patnaik, deputy conservator of the said he tried ing the Coast Guard vessel to reach out to Nagarajan. But as the vessel was far off, he decided to instruct and guide a passing merchant ship, MT Pacific Lagoon, bearing a Liberian flag, to rescue Nagarajan. The ship was en route Port Fujairah in the UAE.

Around 7pm, as Salian was considering calling the cops, he received a call that Nagarajan had been rescued. And that he was fine despite spending over seven hours in the sea. Nagarajan left for his hometown in Tamil Nadu on Sunday afternoon to meet his family after the miraculous escape.
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