Ross Chapman on his boat. He is lucky to be alive.
Ross Chapman on his boat. He is lucky to be alive. 60 Minutes

Lost at sea survivor felt like "live bait"

MIRACLE lost-at-sea survivor Ross Chapman has described feeling like a "huge live bait" as he clung desperately to a fishing line behind his unmanned boat 40km off the WA coast.

The 30-year-old fisherman was rescued after six hours treading water in shark-infested seas off Exmouth on January 3.

Mr Chapman was fishing alone on his 4.8m boat Poppa George about 8.30am. After catching and releasing a 250kg blue marlin, he knocked his GoPro camera into the water and, when he reached down to grab it, he fell in.

The boat was in gear and moved quickly away from him, so he grabbed hold of a fishing line. However, after pulling himself to within 1.5m of the vessel, the line snapped.

"I went to grab the GoPro and I knocked it off the back of the boat. It went bounce, bounce and I just like kind of lurched over the back to try and grab it just before it went over and then, yeah, I've just ended up straight in the water," he says in a harrowing 60 Minutes interview tonight. He said he felt like shark bait dangling on the end of his fishing line.

"That was quite scary you know, 'cause I was getting towed along and I was looking out the back behind me. I was pretty much just a huge live bait and it wasn't good," he said.

Unknown to him, a big rescue operation was already well under way by 1.30pm.

Help finally arrived in the form of Mr Chapman's good friend Brendon Hawker, who had come to join the search.

"It was awesome. Like it was just like 'Oh my God, I'm actually safe, I've been rescued'. It was pretty much a miracle really," Mr Chapman said.

He has vowed never to go fishing alone again.

60 Minutes, tonight at 8.30pm

News Corp Australia


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