Man in flooded boat saw sharks circling while trapped 38 hours off Florida
The Charlotte Observer August 6, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — The search for a missing boater came to a dramatic end when the U.S. Coast Guard found him drifting 12 miles off St. Augustine, Fla. — in a boat that was largely underwater, officials say.
Charles Gregory, 25, was rescued Saturday nearly two days after he launched from the Lighthouse Park Boat Ramp late Thursday, Aug. 3. He was reported missing Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
“An HC-130 Hercules airplane aircrew spotted Gregory, Saturday morning, sitting in his partially submerged jon boat,” the Coast Guard said in a news release.
U.S. Coast Guard video shows Gregory’s small boat was full of water and the front was below the surface.
Once ashore, he was taken to a waiting ambulance by stretcher and showed signs of severe sunburn.
He suffered no life-threatening injuries during the ordeal, the Coast Guard reported.
However, Gregory is having difficulty walking due to “atrophied” leg muscles, according to an Aug. 5 Facebook post by The Surf Station, a St. Augustine surf shop that referred to Gregory an employee.
Among the challenges he faced during the ordeal were sharks that occasionally circled the small boat, the Surf Station wrote.
“(It) all started at 4 a.m. 2 days ago when Charles took his little boat out the inlet like he has done countless times before to go fishing for bull reds,” the Surf Station said.
“A rogue wave hit the boat and knocked it over. A second wave came and knocked everything out of the boat. ... Charles needed to tread water next to the boat because if he got on the boat it would sink. However, sharks would circle the boat and he would need to get on the boat temporally to get away from them. ... This made the boat sink.”
Gregory watched “about 20 to 25 boats and planes” pass him by “but no one ever saw him,” the shop reported.
Some family members said they began to give up hope, Gregory’s father, Raymond Gregory, told station WTLV.
“It’s a miracle. There is a God up there,” Raymond Gregory said in a Tweet from the the station. “If you ever thought (there) wasn’t, let your kid go missing offshore in the friggin’ ocean for 38 hours. I gave up hope. I should never have given up hope.”
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