Teenage boy spends two hours treading water in rough seas without a life jacket after falling off his grandparents’ yacht.

Paramedics are stunned by the 14-year-old’s survival after his grandparents failed to notice he was missing, reports 9 news.

He was saved two hours later, when someone on another boat spotted him in the water off Gladstone, on the Queensland coast and pulled him to safety on Sunday afternoon.

The boy had swallowed a lot of water and been battered by waves as he fought to keep his head above water near the mouth of the Gladstone marina.

His grandparents only realised he was missing after returning to the marina, sparking a panicked call to authorities and an air search.

“The boy was treading water for approximately two hours. The average person could tread water without much difficulty for about 30 minutes. For the boy, he was very, very lucky to survive,” ambulance service spokesman Chris Pereira said.

How to Tread Water Correctly

The first thing to remember when treading water is to stay calm, says Tanya from Tanya’s Travelling Tadpole Tuition.

“Your body needs to be relaxed enough to be able to move fluidly, and you need to be breathing gently in order to conserve energy.”

To tread water simply use one of the arm movements suggested below in combination with one of the leg movements mentioned.

Arm Movements
Version one: From a vertical position, have your arms stretched outwards at a 45-degree angle to your body. Use stiff hands but loose arms to sweep the water, pushing it forwards and then backwards, forwards and then backwards etc.

Version two: Alternatively, you can scull by circling your arms in big movements, bringing them in front of your body until they are practically touching each other, almost like the breaststroke arm movement.

Leg Movements
Version one: Use a ‘flutter-kick’ technique by quickly moving your straight legs in small, scissor-like motions, like a vertical version of the freestyle kick.

Version two: Use an “eggbeater kick”.  This involves a similar leg movement to breaststroke, but the swimmer is in a sitting position with the legs bent at the knee at approx. 90 degrees.  The legs alternate moving in a circular motion in opposite directions, with your feet flexed, creating upwards lift.

Practice makes perfect
Treading water can come naturally once you get the hang of it. It’s important to remember that your body needs to be as relaxed as possible and both your arms and legs need to be moving all the time.

Lifejacket rules via Maritime Safety Qld

It is compulsory to wear a lifejacket:

  • when crossing a designated coastal bar in an open boat that is less than 4.8m in length
  • if you are under 12 years old (from 12 months old and up to, but not including, 12 years old) in an open boat that is less than 4.8m in length and underway.

Find more tips from Tanya’s Travelling Tadpole Tuition HERE OR on Facebook HERE

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  • yep life jackets are what need to go on straight away! it is literally life saving. this boy is incredibly lucky indeed. He must have been so terrified and i bet that this ordeal with stay with him for a long time.


  • I believe that regardless of boat size and a person’s age that a life jacket should be worn. The boy could easily have inhaled water and it gone down into his lungs which can cause what is known as secondary drowning as a person can pass away hours later.


  • Bet he won’t be allowed out with the grandparents for a while!


  • Saw this young man on TV and he was so laid back about his ordeal. Said it was no good yelling as his grandfather was deaf, so he conserved his energy as much as he could and just kept himself afloat. So pleased he was rescued.


  • He surely is a big fighter! Incredible that the grandparents didn’t realize earlier that he was missing. I am glad the story has an happy ending. :-)


  • Poor kid, what a legend treading water for so long – glad someone taught him that! Imagine the poor grandparents discovering he was missing!


  • Such an incredible story – so pleased he was rescued. 2 hours is awfully long – just shows the strengths you can find when you need to!


  • 2 Hours, what a scary experience !! Thank God this boy survived, that’s absolutely amazing !


  • Thank goodness he persevered with treading water and that he was found.


  • firstly what a horrible thing to have happen, he must have felt terrible. SEcondly treading water for approximately 2 hours is pretty amazing. Sounds like grit and determination kept this from being a horrible ending story


  • Such a horrible experience,l would be so scared of sharks!


  • Says a lot for swimming lessons. I still can’t believe some states don’t have them as part of school. My kids do three rounds of lessons a year if I can get them in.


  • This boy is remarkable. Glad he is safe


  • oh wow so lucky! Must have been petrified!


  • Wow. Very very lucky boy.


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