01/11/2012 11:52 am ET

SpongeBob SquarePants Boardshorts Save Lost Jet Skiier

He lives in a pineapple under the sea, and to one man, SpongeBob SquarePants is a hero. Lost jetskiier Eric Bettanin used his brightly colored SpongeBob boardshorts to attract life-saving help.

Bettanin, 29, was jet skiing off the coast of the Australian state of Victoria while on vacation on Monday, when he broke down off Torquay and was swept out to sea, reports the Geelong Advertiser. After spending the night at sea, he was found at dawn Tuesday with the yellow shorts atop his head.

"As silly as it sounds, they made quite a significant difference to my core temperature,'" he told the Herald Sun. "'When I stood up and started waving I had them on my head."

Bettanin credits his training as an army officer for keeping him safe, reports.

The ordeal began just after 9 p.m. Monday when Bettanin went out on a family jet ski, only to have the engine fail 10 minutes into the ride. He was stranded about one-quarter mile off shore, and was rapidly drifting to sea.

More than 40 rescue personnel spent the night looking for him. He was finally picked up by the Coast Guard.

"There was no better sight than that big orange Coast Guard boat coming straight towards me," he told Geelong Advertiser. "They all worked throughout the night, it was their tireless efforts that led to my safe return."

Bettanin was taken to a hospital with suspected hypothermia, but was released mid-morning.