Paul Burgess, 37, and his wife Lisa, 27, were flying home from Teignmouth, Devon, to Denham, Buckinghamshire, in a Jet Ranger helicopter when they lost contact with radar crew on the ground shortly before noon.
Their last known position was two miles south of Lyme Bay, Dorset, and a search was immediately launched by Portland coastguard.
The crews of two local fishing vessels - described by the coastguard spokesman as "absolutely wonderful" - also responded to the mayday alert. One of the fishing crews found the couple in the water less than a mile south of Charmouth, Dorset. A lifeboat took them to Lyme Regis.
Both were suffering from hypothermia and shock after spending one and a half hours in the water at temperatures of less than 9C. Last night they were recovering at Dorset County Hospital, Dorchester, but were expected to be released soon.
The helicopter has been removed from the water and is under police guard. There are believed to have been a number of paintings on board, some of which were lost in the sea.