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Coast Guard hoists two Florida fishermen to safety 40 miles offshore

A Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew rescues two men from a 24-foot boat, 40 miles west of Bradenton, Dec. 12, 2020.

U.S. COAST GUARD

By CARLOS R. MUNOZ | Sarasota Herald-Tribune | Published: December 13, 2020

CLEARWATER, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — Two men were rescued 40 miles offshore from Bradenton on Saturday morning after their 24-foot boat sank, the U.S. Coast Guard 7th District PA Detachment Tampa Bay said.

Larry McCain, 52, of Parrish and Dennis Amo, 64, of Sarasota were hoisted to safety.

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At 10:30 a.m., a personal locator beacon alerted Coast Guard personnel that the men were in distress. A Coast Guard Auxiliary air crew diverted from its patrol and found the men in the water. They were transported to Air Station Clearwater.

No injuries were reported.

McCain told the Coast Guard the men left the 59th Street boat ramp in Bradenton early Saturday morning to fish. After catching red grouper for a few hours, the rear of the boat began to submerge. He said the men tossed the fish in the boat and tried to drive forward, but there wasn't enough power to overcome the weight of the water.

The boat went down in approximately 3-foot swells.

Amo said, "It was a matter of 10 minutes that the boat went down. We tried bailing out the water, but the bilge pump stopped. Batteries went underwater, and then I grabbed my PLB." The acronym is commonly used for the portable beacons, which transmit distress signals using radio frequencies and are often GPS-enabled.

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Amo wants fishermen to heed his story.

"People need to have" a PLB or similar device, Amo said. "If you had asked me this morning if I needed to have one, I would've said no. The boat was in perfect condition."

Holding up his PLB, Amo said, "This was the difference between a couple hours on the water or a couple days of tragedy."

Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg commander Capt. Matthew Thompson said, "They had all their safety equipment, put on their life jackets and activated their personal locator beacon at the first sign of an emergency."

A safety marine information bulletin is being broadcast for the drifting 24-foot capsized vessel with twin engine outboards, which has 80 gallons of fuel onboard.

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A Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew poses for a photo at the air station with two men rescued by the crew, Dec. 12, 2020. Dennis Amo and Larry McCain were rescued after their boat took on water 40 miles west of Bradenton, Fla.
ASHLEY J. JOHNSON/U.S. COAST GUARD