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'God took care of me,' says sailor who was missing at sea for 16 days

A 21-foot pleasure craft takes on water near West Palm Beach, Fla., Jan. 29, 2018. The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Cochito rescued the owner of the vessel who was aboard as the vessel was sinking.

BRANDON MURRAY/U.S. COAST GUARD

By LINDA TRISCHITTA, DOUG PHILLIPS AND TONYA ALANEZ | Sun Sentinel | Published: January 31, 2018

(TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE) — A sailor who was rescued after being lost at sea for 16 days spoke Tuesday for the first time about his ordeal.

“I never had a doubt that God was going to take care of me,” said Samuel Moss, Jr., 23, from his hospital bed at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., surrounded by his girlfriend and relatives.

It was supposed to be a four-hour trip for Moss, who’d just bought a boat and was excited to steer it home from Bimini to Nassau, in The Bahamas.

The blue sky was dotted with puffy white clouds and Moss may have expected clear sailing ahead.

But the weather turned cold, the seas grew rough, and the mariner’s family reported him missing.

Moss was rescued 16 days later from his sinking vessel off the coast of South Florida, hundreds of miles off course.

“He was found in completely the opposite direction from where he was going,” said Chris Lloyd, operations manager for the Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association in Nassau.

On Tuesday, Moss said: “I’m coming along pretty well. From yesterday to today is a big accomplishment.” The hospital said he was in fair condition.

But when Moss was rescued, he was so fatigued and dehydrated that he could not stand up on his own or walk without somebody to lean on, he said. His entire right side had ceased to function, he said.

Moss said he kept track of the days by making marks on the back of the boat.

Food ran out, he said, after a week. He had a case of water he bought at Wal-Mart that he was rationing, one bottle a day, until a big wave hit on Friday and knocked the water out of the boat and it floated away.

Although he was off course, Moss claims, “I was never lost.” He said he purposefully drifted in a direction where he knew there would be a lot of boat traffic so he could be found.

Another sailor notified the U.S. Coast Guard on Monday that a boat with one person aboard was taking on water in the Atlantic Ocean, about 10 miles east of West Palm Beach, the agency said.

When the crew from the cutter Cochito arrived about 3:30 p.m. near the boat, the man was having “a possible chemical reaction” and one of his legs was swollen, the Coast Guard said.

A smaller Coast Guard boat brought Moss to shore, where Riviera Beach Fire Rescue paramedics met him and took him to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, the Coast Guard said.

Moss bought his boat — a used, single engine, 21-foot Angler with a cabin — in South Florida.

On Jan. 13, Moss had steered the pleasure craft to Bimini and spent the night there.

As Moss left Bimini the next morning for the 140 mile trip home to Nassau, he posted a Facebook video.

“Time to bring it home,” Moss said at the time. And perhaps prophetically, he added, “This is the last ride.”

Moss estimated he had a four-hour trip ahead and recorded himself drinking water.

But conditions turned against him. After family members reported Lloyd missing and the weather cleared somewhat, searchers traced his route, but to no avail.

“He was the only boat out,” Lloyd said.

The Facebook video was viewed 88,000 times, and friends kept a vigil for Moss on the social media page.

Two days into the third week of Moss’ disappearance, the Coast Guard reported the rescue.

A photograph of Moss’ boat showed the deck was submerged and sea water was creeping up the sides of the cabin.

But it was not the first time Moss was rescued at sea.

In February 2017, Moss picked up a boat in Miami and became stranded off Grand Bahama, the Tribune newspaper reported Tuesday. Moss was missing for about three days before the Royal Bahamas Defence Force found him, a relative said.

So how does this happen to a man twice in a year?

Moss’ girlfriend, Lashelle Forbes, said she knows how. “Because he’s so friggin’ hot headed and he doesn’t listen.”

The only response from Moss, a lifeguard at the Baha Mar resort in Nassau, was a grin.

©2018 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
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