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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 10 July, 2020

'I was thinking I was going to die' - Surfer rescued by Belfast Coast Guard after 32 hours at sea

Belfast Coastguard coordinated the search for Matthew Bryce from Airdrie in Scotland.

Image: BBC via Screengrab

A YOUNG SCOTTISH surfer who was rescued after 32 hours adrift at sea says that he made peace with dying during his ordeal.

Belfast Coastguard coordinated the search for Matthew Bryce from Airdrie in Scotland after he went surfing off a beach near Campbeltown Scotland on Sunday and didn’t return.

The young man had set off to go surfing off the Argyll coast that morning and had not been heard from since 11.30am.

He was rescued on Monday night drifting close to Rathlin Island.

Speaking to BBC Scotland today, Bryce said he was convinced he would not survive the ordeal.

I was thinking I was going to die. I was almost convinced. I didn’t think I’d see the sunrise.

“It was all pretty terrible, but the night was the worst – sitting there with the fishing boats in the distance, shouting for them, but they didn’t hear me.”

After beginning his day surfing, high winds and tides carried Bryce away from the shore and his attempts to paddle back were “ineffective”.

“It got to the point where my paddling was ineffective, but I was doing it to keep myself warm.”


As he saw ships pass, he said his hopes dipped, but he continued to paddle towards boats during the night. By daybreak he was beginning to pass out, convinced he would not live.

I knew I wasn’t going to make another night, so I was watching the sunset.

“Then a helicopter flew over me.”

Jumping off the board and waving it above him in order to be seen, Bryce said the moment he realised he would be saved was “indescribable”.

“I can’t describe it at all. These guys were the most beautiful sight I had ever seen.

I owe them my life.

He is being treated in Ulster University Hospital and his parents have flown from Scotland to be with him.

Read: The moment a young surfer was rescued after 32 hours at sea

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