Did you know that 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water and that 96.5 percent of that water consists of the oceans? That’s a lot of H2O for one to explore, but also for one to get lost in. Sadly, while GPS and life-saving technologies have come a long way since the era of Odysseus, people still get lost at sea. Some never come back while others come home with scary stories and good lessons. One such case in the latter is the story of a local Florida fisherman and former Navy pilot by the name of William Durden.
A Fishing Adventure Gone Terribly Wrong
Last summer, Durden, 61, was fishing by himself in the Gulf of Mexico just north of Clearwater, Florida when things turned upside down. He had just caught some gorgeous grouper and was going for a third when his line snagged the bottom of his 22-foot boat. With the boat going forward at three or four knots, Durden tugged on his rod but instead of freeing the line, the jerk threw Durden in the water behind his boat.
No life jacket, no phone, no GPS. Durden tried desperately to swim back to his boat, but its speed in tandem with the wind made it move too quickly away from him. He was 25 miles from shore without a person in sight.
Thankfully, his training from the Navy and his own survival instincts kicked in. He utilized drownproofing to keep himself afloat and treading hours for an incredible 20 straight hours. It was a long night but his wife, once discovering he never came home, promptly contacted rescue officials and the next day the Coast Guard was scouring his estimated location and he was rescued before noon the following day.
Learning From Others’ Mistakes
We shouldn’t let scary stories like this dissuade us from enjoying our boating passion, but we should learn from them. In this case, when boating solo, consider wearing an inflatable life jacket at all times and keeping a waterproof phone or something similar on your body. Additionally, let others know your day plans and when they can expect you back by.
You can learn more about Bill Durden’s story here and subscribe to our blog for other boating tips, recommendations, and stories.