Missing sailor found clinging to capsized boat after 43 hours at sea

'Saving lives at sea is our highest calling,’ says captain Mark Vlaun of US Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville

Coast guard footage of US Airways landing into Hudson River

A sailor who went missing off the Florida coast was found alive nearly two days after he disappeared, clinging to his capsized boat 86 miles from shore.

Stuart Bee, 62, set out to sea on his 32-foot boat at 4pm on Friday from Port Canaveral on Florida's east coast, according to The US Coast Guard.

After he did not return from his trip on Saturday, Mr Bee’s family reported him missing, saying it was unusual for him to stay out at sea for more than 24 hours.

Patrols were sent out to find Mr Bee, as a Hercules C-130 aircraft joined the search to locate him on Saturday, according to The Daily Mail.

Mariners off the Florida coast were also instructed to keep a lookout for the vessel by the 7th District Coast Guard command centre, as a Customs and Border Patrol air marine asset assisted in the search.

At 11am on Sunday, crew members from a 225-foot container ship, named Angeles, spotted Mr Bee clinging to his capsized boat around 86 miles from Port Canaveral.

The crew of the container ship rescued Mr Bee from the water and brought him to shore. The 62-year-old had been at sea for around 43 hours when he was found.

Mr Bee told the US Coast Guard that his boat became disabled on Saturday, after it suffered a mechanical problem.

His boat then capsized on Sunday morning, as water rushed into the front cabin of the vessel while he was asleep. He clung on to the top of the boat in order to stay out of the water.

A few hours later, Mr Bee noticed the Angeles in the distance, so removed his shirt and waved it in the air to get the attention of the crew on the container ship. He was rescued shortly afterwards.

A member of the crew, Lacruiser P Relativo, took a photo with Mr Bee after giving him fresh clothes to wear onboard the ship.

“I choose to offer him my 'lucky shirt'. I could give him a new one but this one is my favourite. I wish him the same comfort this shirt has given me during those tiring job interviews.

“Just like him, I was lucky to get the job. He was lucky too that our course crossed near Atlantic,” Mr Relativo, who is a merchant mariner, said in a post on Facebook.

He added: “As merchant mariners, we were trained to the toughest degree of distress that can possibly happen at sea.

“However, the actual scene is often different. After careful manoeuvres, we successfully rescued Mr Stuart. Before I could start questioning, he first asked me ‘What day it is today?’, ‘November 29!’, I responded.”

Captain Mark Vlaun, commanding officer of the US Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, who helped coordinate the search, said in a news release: “Saving lives at sea is our highest calling.

“This is a truly incredible outcome that demonstrates the bond among all mariners and our community.”

Mr Vlaun added: “Thank you to our mission partners that launched into action and to all who got the word out to find and rescue Mr Bee.”

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