An amazing rescue

Tony Bullimore was a millionaire British businessman and international yachtsman. In November 1996 he set off from France in his yacht Exide Challenger in the non-stop Vendée Globe round-the-world yacht race. The route took competitors southwards to South Africa and eastwards into the Southern Ocean towards Australia. In January 1997 his yacht, and the yachts of other competitors, were struck by a violent storm in one of the remotest and wildest areas of the Southern Ocean. Tony was 1500 miles west of Australia and less than 1000 miles north of Antarctica. He had to contend with 70 mph winds and 50ft waves.

Tony’s yacht capsized and he was trapped in an air pocket inside the upturned hull of Exide Challenger. He activated the distress beacon and then spent nearly 5 days in a wet, dark, freezing space hoping to be rescued. He knew that all he could do was to wait and pray! The manufacturers of the yacht estimated that there was enough air in the upturned hull for someone to survive for about 140 hours. As the days passed Tony prepared to move into a smaller section of the hull and thought, “I may be preparing my own grave.”

Meanwhile the Maritime Rescue Centre in Canberra organised a search. The air force put up a long-range reconnaissance aircraft and the Royal Australian Navy sent the frigate HMAS Adelaide to scour the desolate area, seeking to home in on the beacons. Eventually, Tony’s boat was sighted with its keel all but broken off and no sign of Tony. When he heard a diver knocking on the upturned hull Tony said, “I started shouting, I’m coming! I’m coming! It took only a few seconds to get to the other end of the boat. When I saw the ship standing there and the plane going overhead and a couple of guys peering over the top of the upturned hull, it was heaven, absolute heaven! I could only get a tremendous ecstasy, that I was looking at life, that I was saved.” The rescue cost the Australian Government about £3 million. After that dramatic rescue Tony lived for more than 20 years until his death from cancer in July 2018.

The Lord Jesus Christ came from heaven to earth to rescue unworthy and undeserving people like you and me. Tony Bullimore knew he desperately needed to be rescued but some people are unaware of their need to be rescued by Jesus. The cost of the rescue Jesus accomplished was his own death on the cross in our place. The consequence of the rescue is an eternal relationship with God which begins in this life and continues for ever in heaven.

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