AFTER being thrown from their boat about 2km from land, a 37-year-old swam the distance, with his injured 45-year-old mate in-tow.
The pair were plucked from North Stradbroke Island about 6.30am on Wednesday after a trawler spotted their submerged boat about three hours earlier.
In a press conference, Queensland Police sergeant Tony Nelson said the boaties had been on the water since 6am Tuesday, but as they were returning to shore via the Jumpinpin Bar, a wave tipped over their "5.5m runabout", tossing them into the water.
The shock capsizing meant there was no time to activate a distress beacon or even grab lifejackets, Sgt Nelson said, although the 37-year-old boat owner managed to snag the lifejackets once in the water.
The ferocity of the impact left the 45-year-old with two dislocated shoulders and a dislocated hip.
Unable to swim, Sgt Nelson said his mate towed him the nautical mile to North Stradbroke Island.
The alarm was raised to emergency services about 7.20pm on Tuesday night, but because the boaties had told nobody of their planned location and had not radioed in as they departed, the search was stifled.
Once crews worked out where the boaties traditionally fish, an Emergency Management Queensland helicopter was dispatched.
Meanwhile, the two water-logged anglers had made it to North Stradbroke Island and built a make-shift shelter.
As the EMQ chopper flew overhead, the 37-year-old emerged to try to catch its attention, but failed.
He is understood to have told police he expected rescuers to return at first light, which is when they were picked up on Wednesday morning.
The runabout is now suspected to have sunk and Gold Coast boaties have been warned to keep an eye out.
Sgt Nelson also said it was critical for those heading out on the water to tell family and friends where they were heading, and radio in.