The sailor who was missing at sea for two days before being rescued clinging to the bow of his boat has spoken about his ordeal for the first time.
Stuart Bee, 62, told the coastguard he ‘thought “this is it”‘ after he was found 86 miles from shore off Port Canaveral on Florida’s east coast on Sunday morning.
His boat had been experiencing mechanical issues before it sank but Bee had been asleep when ‘water gushed in the back and forced him up to the front’.
The crew of a passing 225-foot container ship named Angeles spotted him clinging to the bow of his 32-foot recreational boat, Stingray, which had capsized. The crew rescued him from the water and brought him back to shore.
Bee, who is now making his way to back to shore safely with the crew who found him, added: ”I had been working on the engines, squealing noises and several parts on it.
‘I didn’t see anybody. I thought “this is it”. And then I saw a container vessel in the distance and I don’t have my glasses. I couldn’t see if it was coming to me or not.’
Bee is now making his way to back to shore safely with the crew who found him
Stuart Bee, 62, climbs aboard the Angeles container ship after being found 86 miles from shore, left. He can be seen clinging to the bow of his sunken boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, right
The sailor, who set out at 4pm on Friday afternoon, described taking off his shirt and waving at his rescue boat before being rescued Sunday morning at 11am.
He said he had tried to reach equipment to raise a distress signal on his boat but it had sank with the vessel, adding: ‘Three times I tried to hold my breath and swim down and get it but I couldn’t reach it.’
Bee says he was reluctant to keep moving for fear of losing an air pocket in the cabin that kept the boat afloat.
Stuart Bee was rescued 86 miles east of Port Canaveral, Florida
Bee, pictured after his rescue, said he had tried to reach equipment to raise a distress signal on his boat but it had sank with the vessel, adding: ‘Three times I tried to hold my breath and swim down and get it but I couldn’t reach it’
Lacruiser P. Relativo, a merchant mariner, right, who was onboard the Angeles container ship took a photo with Bee and gave him fresh clothes to wear
Bee has now become something of a hero onboard the container ship having spent the last few days with the crew
His had family raised the alarm when he did not return from his trip, saying it was unusual for him to stay on the water overnight.
Speaking Tuesday his niece Leisa Bee said: ‘The first thing he said was “you’re never going to guess what happened to me”. I’m in disbelief, I can’t believe that they found him.’
The Coastguard had ran patrols and even sent a Hercules C-130 aircraft to join the search.
Bee had somehow managed to cling onto the bow of his boat for almost two days
Bee is given a helping hand moments after climbing up the steps of his rescue ship
A container ship, the Angeles, pictured, came across Bee during the course of its voyage
Lacruiser P. Relativo, a merchant mariner who was onboard the Angeles, took a photo with Bee and gave him fresh clothes to wear.
‘I choose to offer him my ‘lucky shirt’. I could give him a new one but this 1 is my favorite. I wish him the same comfort this shirt has given me during those tiring job interviews. Just like him, I was lucky to get the job. He was lucky too that our course crossed near Atlantic,’ he wrote on Facebook.
Relativo explained: ‘I was awakened by a call with sense of urgency that we need to rescue someone. As merchant mariners, we were trained to the toughest degree of distress that can possibly happen at sea.
‘However, the actual scene often different. After careful maneuvers, we successfully rescued Mr. Stuart. Before I could start questioning, he first asked me “What day it is today?”, “November 29!”, I responded.
‘By the look on his face, I saw his teary eyes as he made sign of the cross. He was drifted in the open sea for days, maintaining his stance at the top of his capsized boat, to not make any single move as it may trigger his yacht to sink fully.’
The Coastguard ran patrols and even sent a Hercules C-130 aircraft to search for him, pictured
A C-130 Hercules aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater had joined the search and rescue effort after Bee did not return home.
A further call was also made to any mariners located in the area to keep a lookout for Bee’s vessel and the man himself.
‘Saving lives at sea is our highest calling. This is a truly incredible outcome that demonstrates the bond among all mariners and our community,’ said Capt. Mark Vlaun, commanding officer of Sector Jacksonville.
‘Thank you to our mission partners that launched into action and to all who got the word out to find and rescue Mr. Bee’
Bee’s boat, Stingray, ran into difficulties on the open water and then ended up capsizing
Bee set off in his 32ft boat for the open water off Florida on Friday. Pictured here in better times