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Paul Lim was rescued from his yacht after his engine broke away in rough seas. (Australian Maritime Safety Authority)

A Canadian sailor has been rescued off the coast of southwest Australia after his yacht became stranded in rough seas.

Paul Lim, 62, from Victoria, set off an emergency signal after the engine mounting of his 9.5-metre yacht broke Monday as he battled nine-metre waves and winds of up to 90 km/h in the Southern Ocean, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in a statement.

Lim told Australia's ABC Radio that he was surprised and comforted by how fast his emergency beacon was answered.

"I never felt concerned for my safety because I knew I was going to be rescued," Lim said, "Part of this is because when I turned the EPIRB on the response was extremely rapid, it was only a few hours before an aircraft flew overhead."

The beacon (or EPIRB) itself had been given to Lim by a friend in Chile and had an expiry date of 2002, so its functioning had not been a sure thing.

The Panamanian bulk carrier Kohju was diverted to the area and reached him approximately 260 kilometres southwest of Cape Leeuwin late Monday.

It took the crew six hours to winch Lim on board to safety from the rough seas.

Lim told ABC Radio he had set off to sail around the world a few years ago, and after spending too much time in South Africa he needed to get back to Canada quickly.

He admitted that he had taken a risk in sailing during this time of year.

"It's taking a big chance because the Southern Ocean in the winter is pretty terrible as I found out," he said.

Lim was not hurt and will remain on board the Kohju, which is headed toward the Canary Islands.

With files from The Associated Press