Boy, it never felt so good to be on a boat! I had been in the water almost six hours, swam about 6 miles, was bleeding all over but was safe with my dog Susie. The guys on the boat were amazed that we had swam so far in such rough seas, and survived. They had been out lobster diving, the only boat out of Snake Creek, and had caught sight of the blue cooler on their way in. They did not see us until they got real close and realized we were swimming. They said they had not seen any boats all day. We were half a mile from the headline marking the channel of Snake Creek when they picked us up. The Lord was listening and we were saved.
They were kind enough to give us a ride back to my truck at Clark's house on Plantation Key. I hopped in the truck and went to Clark's business, Plantation Fisheries. He had just got back to the dock with his load of fish and said he was glad I did not go out as it was so rough. I told him what had happened, he said he wondered what was up, as he had come by the aquaculture site looking for me. We hopped right on his boat and went out looking for my boat. He as a big 30 Island Hopper boat, easily took the six foot seas. I had no GPS to locate the site, as it had gone down with the boat. We looked for about an hour from atop the big tower he has on his boat, but could not find my boat. I was real tired and sore and told him to forget it until the next day, when I would purchase a new GPS to find the site.
Upon return to shore I notified the Coast Guard of the sinking and a Marine Sanctuary officer, Mr. Benny Davis called me for a report. We were to meet the next morning to fill out paperwork and look for the vessel. He showed up the next day with his boat and Clark with his, and we went back out to look for the boat. We looked and looked and could not find the boat. It was only 24 hours after it sank, but we could not find it. Expanding our search pattern, the Sanctuary officer called us on the radio and said "come get her". He had found the boat over 1/2 a mile from where I had sank, still upside down on the bottom.
It was still located on a sand bottom which is good as they officers get real excited if you damage the reef with a sunk boat. Plus, there was no fuel spill or slick. I geared up with scuba tanks and went down to look at her. What I saw was a destroyed boat. Just one night underwater and the boat had holes in it, the motor ripped off, no windshield, no nothing. Clark threw me a rope to attach to the bow eye so he could pull it up. He tried and tried, but as the boat was upside down it acted as a diving plane and would not come off the bottom. Benny threw me a rope from his vessel, I tied it to a side cleat, he pulled with his boat, and under full tilt power, rolled the boat over underwater.
Clark was then able to pull with his boat and my boat slowly came to the surface. Under full power with his boat Clark kept towing and my boat slowly got higher and higher in the water. I was on Benny's boat and he got me close to the boat and I jumped into her to pull the plug to allow all the water to run out and float. This process to the whole 6 miles back to shore to get the water and sand out. She floated and we pulled it back to the boat ramp and put her on the trailer.
Needless to say I have been real sore for a week, my arms still hurt, but the cuts are healing up. The vessel is a total loss, thirty thousand dollars down the drain, but Susie and I are alive, thank God!
I found a new much bigger boat with a full transom the next day, purchased it, hauled it back to Tampa, got up the next morning a 3 am, returned to the Keys for the destroyed boat, and hauled it home. Anybody need a slightly used boat??
Tampa Bay Saltwater