TODAY   |  October 18, 2012

Stranded sailor saved, thanks to jet passengers

Glenn Ey was 270 miles off the coast of Sydney, Australia, when his yacht was flipped by a monster wave, shattering its mast. He activated his emergency beacon, which was spotted by passengers aboard an Air Canada jumbo jet, leading to his rescue. NBC’s Sara James reports.

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>>> airline passengers are getting credit for saving the life of another traveler who wasn't even on the plane. sarah james has more on this rescue at sea.

>> reporter: welcomed with a tearful embrace from mom and dad after a remarkable rescue at sea.

>> i was very, very concerned.

>> reporter: last week, the 44-year-old sailor was 270 miles off the coast of sidney, australia when he hit stormy seas, a monster 70-foot wave lifted his yacht.

>> it picked me up and rolled me over.

>> reporter: the veteran sailor righted his craft. no sails and fuel running out, he activated his emergency beacon hoping someone would find him.

>> good morning, ladies and gentlemen , it's your captain speaking.

>> reporter: turns out rescue came thanks to sharp-eyed strangers. passengers aboard an air canada jumbo jet diverted in route from vancouver. passengers were asked to look out their window. several spotted the tiny craft in the ocean. his location pinpointed a rescue vehicle eventually arrived, a two-day mission ending days of anxiety for one mom.

>> my prayers have been answered. that's what i said to him.

>> reporter: as for glenn, he says the little things seem pretty wonderful right now.

>> after a week afloat, two weeks, something like a milkshake is extremely appealing.

>> reporter: for "today," sarah james , nbc news, melbourne, australia.