After storm swamped a fishing boat carrying his family, John Riggs left the capsized craft and swam for five hours in the dark through schools of jellyfish to reach help.

According to an article in USA Today, Riggs, his 70-year old father, his daughter and her 3 year-old son, and his visiting 9-year old granddaughter were fishing off the coast of Maryland. The sea flipped the boat approximately two miles from shore, but changing tides carried it another five miles in another direction.

When Riggs reached shore around 1 a.m., he knocked on the first house he saw and asked for help. Soon after, he was on a rescue boat with volunteer firefighters, and a Maryland State Police helicopter and the U.S. Coast Guard met him at the scene. Contessa Riggs said it was a relief to see help arrive.

“I’ve never been so happy to see search boats in my life,” she said Wednesday by telephone. “It took him five hours to swim ashore. He had to stop and grab a crab pot buoy and rest, then swim. We clinged to the side of the boat and got stung by sea nettles in the dark,” she said.

In addition to Riggs’ swimming efforts, officials on the scene credit life jackets for helping save the family.