A 62 year-old boater who was missing for days was found alive clinging to his capsized boat 86 miles off the Florida coast earlier this month.
Stuart Bee told CNN that he had been out stargazing on a Saturday night when he fell asleep. The next thing he knew, he was waking up to find that his boat was taking on water.
“There is no one around and I thought about what I could do to get help,” he said. “I hung on to a floating cushion, and fortunately the boat did not sink…I hung on to the cushion and the boat.”
Bee added that he dived into the water three or four times to try and retrieve the emergency kit, but he was not able to do so. He was preparing to try one more time when he spotted the boat called the Angeles in the distance.
“I took my shirt off and waved it several times and I continued to do that until about 45 minutes later until the boat was close enough,” he said.
Bee was incredibly relieved when he saw that the boat was coming for him.
“The entire crew had a sense of joy that they found me, and for me it went from major concern to a feeling of relief and calmness… this is not going to turn out bad after all,” he said.
#MustSee: Stuart Bee is recovered by the 225-foot motor vessel, #Angeles. The crew spotted the man clinging to the bow of the vessel and took him aboard and will transport him to shore. #BREAKING
Photo credit: crew member aboard the m/v Angeles. pic.twitter.com/1MSKcVRYG5
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) November 30, 2020
When asked how he was treated by the crew, Bee said it was “better than a cruise ship.”
“The nicest people ever,” Bee said. “They kept feeding me.”
After pulling Bee from the water, the crew of the Angeles notified the Coast Guard, which deployed a crew to retrieve him.
“Saving lives at sea is our highest calling,” said Capt Mark Vlaun, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. “This is a truly incredible outcome that demonstrates the bond among all mariners and our community. Thank you to our mission partners that launch into action and to all who got the word out to find and rescue Mr. Bee.”
“I can’t even put into words how shocking it is that they saw him out there on that water, 86 miles from shore,” Vlaun added to NBC News. “A person standing on a bowsprit, is the kind of, it’s a made for TV moment, that is the first time I’ve seen anything like that in my 27 years of doing this, that is a truly extraordinary case.”