A LONE fisherman who fell overboard hung on to nets for five miles as his boat towed him back to port on autopilot.

Nathan Rogers, 40, had a miraculous escape in icy seas thanks to a string of coincidences, said rescuers.

He was finally spotted trailing 30 yards from his boat Semper Fidelis — Latin for “always loyal” — after it ploughed into a pier at the harbour mouth in Newyln, Cornwall.

The skipper of another fishing boat then held on to him until a lifeboat picked him up.

Nathan was treated in hospital for hypothermia before being allowed home.

Penlee lifeboat coxswain Patch Harvey said: “I’ve been a fisherman and a lifeboatman over 20 years and never seen something like that.

“He managed to cling on to some hydraulic hoses among the netting.

"If they had snapped he wouldn’t be here now.

"It was flat calm too.

"If it had been rough he wouldn’t have been able to hang on.

"Or if the boat had been going in any other direction, nobody would have known.”

He added: “While we were towing another boat we actually passed his boat not knowing he was over the side.

"We’re all chuffed he’s all right.”

Nathan had been adjusting nets when he fell and was dragged along at six knots.

Louis Matisse, 11, saw him from the beach at around 2.30pm on Thursday.

He said: “I told my dad to phone 999.”

Nathan said: “I would just like to thank everyone involved in my rescue.”