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A man who survived an eight-hour ordeal at sea with his pet cat thanked his rescuers and encouraged all sailors in the event of an emergency to ensure that they have a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).

On 4 January, when his yacht was struck by an electric storm and heavy winds in the Arafura Sea, near the Gove Peninsula, Darwin solo sailor Nigel Fox was bound for the east coast of Queensland.

The 55-year-old says the fear of being knocked overboard and left dangling from the yacht by a safety line with his head submerged will never be forgotten.

“The jackline was just the perfect length to hang me over the stanchions,” he said.

“It was hanging me there, head and shoulders down, and I was on the lee-side of the yacht so it was just pushing my head constantly underwater — basically I was drowning.”

Before triggering the PLB attached to his lifejacket, Mr Fox was able to reach for his hook knife to cut himself free.

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