“You know the world’s most interesting man? Well, I’m just the opposite,” 62-year-old Florida resident Stuart Bee told a news reporter.
Interesting or not, when Bee and his 32-foot pleasure boat, Sting Ray, went missing from Port Canaveral Marina in Florida last Friday he became the focus of an intensive ocean search and rescue mission.
Bee experienced engine trouble early in the trip. Figuring he’d be able to fix it himself, he didn’t radio for help. He’d fallen asleep Sunday night after tinkering with the motor, only to be awakened by a gush of water flooding the cabin that pushed him up toward the bow and out through the front hatch as the stern sank.
That was sometime after midnight.
An experienced sailor, Bee knew he was in real trouble. Once the Sting Ray stabilized, he made several dives back inside to try to retrieve his personal locator beacon, to no avail. Unsure how much longer he’d be able to hang on, just after sunrise, Bee was preparing to make another attempt when he caught sight of a cargo freighter—aptly named the Angeles.
Using his shirt as a flag, Bee was able to get the watch crew’s attention. After the Angeles’ pulled as close as possible, a flotation device was dispatched to reel him in. The crew then used a ladder to haul Bee on board.
“We just rescued one person from a capsizing boat at sea,” the captain of the Angeles confirmed in a satellite call with the Coast Guard. “Bee. Stuart Bee.”
That Bee was found at all floating 86 miles from shore was a matter of pure providence. “This case, honestly, it’s an incredible outcome,” Petty Officer First Class David Micallef, spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard told the New York Times.
“I think it demonstrates the strong ties that the maritime community has with one another. We’re thankful that he’s going to be able to be on dry land soon.”
After confirming Bee’s identity, the Coast Guard search was disbanded. Bee opted to remain aboard the Angeles until its next scheduled stop in Wilmington, Delaware, where the Liberian container ship was set to deliver a cargo of bananas.
“They’re just the nicest people ever,” Bee said humbly of the men who’d saved his life.
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