It’s one of those stories this fisherman would want to tell over and over again, for the sheer amount of luck he had and quite a bit of comedy too. Yoshio Yamashita is a 71-year-old fisherman based in Nichinan City in Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture. The short version is that he was swept overboard from his fishing boat, but still managed to get home a day later on a cab – but he had to ask his wife to pay for his fare.
Yamashita set out on April 24 on what was for him a normal day of fishing. He usually goes out on his 1.3 ton boat alone, but on this day he would have wished he had someone with him. Around 4:30 pm, as he was on his way home, Yamashita was swept overboard. This was roughly 2.5 kilometers (about 1.6 miles) offshore. Fortunately for him, his boat had automatic steering technology, and his boat eventually made it to the port area. Unfortunately for him, the same technology made it impossible for him to catch up with his boat and might have cost him his life had it not been for other variables.
First of these variables was that the fisherman was wearing a life-vest designed for winter, so staying afloat and keeping warm did not become major issues. His knowledge of the area also pointed him to a pier barely visible to him in the distance. Lastly, his mind was clear enough to think to use a rubber boot – inflated with air – as an additional flotation device while paddling with his free hand. Yamashita reached the shore after around two hours of swimming.
Here is where the comedy bit comes in. After making landfall, the 71-year-old was extremely exhausted and he fell asleep on the ground. When he woke up, it was completely dark. He then had to walk three kilometers to a convenience store to call for a taxi, since vehicles wouldn’t stop for him along the road. Finally, around 4:30 am on April 25, the old fisherman arrived home to find his wife, friends, and other fishermen waiting on the search parties that had been sent out to look for him. The first words out of his mouth were, “Could someone pay the taxi for me?” His wife said that she thought she was seeing his ghost, had he not started telling her about the ordeal (we totally understand that, if the guy showed up still wet and barefoot). “It was quite the ordeal,” Yamashita recalled in an interview. “But I just thought of it like a triathlon.” His advice for surviving made sense, he said that it was no good to start panicking. But more than that, he says to always, always wear a life vest.