Amazing Rescue of Man Stranded at Sea

( – “Don’t give up on the big guy” is what 25-year old Charles Gregory said upon being rescued after drifting at sea after two days on a partially capsized craft. Gregory was lost shortly after he launched off the coast near St. Augustine, Florida last week on a 12-foot jon boat. 

A ‘jon boat’ is a small aluminum, nearly flat-bottomed boat with a squared bow and small hand-controlled motor. The craft is meant to be used close to shore in calm waters to fish or hunt water fowl. Gregory’s ordeal became something out of a thriller novel as his jon boat was swept out to sea. When it rolled over and capsized, Gregory lost his cell phone, provisions and safety gear, and the small motor took on water and was rendered non-functional. 

Gregory was able to turn the craft back over and climb in but it had taken on water and remained partially submerged. Experts say in this state Gregory was vulnerable to not only a temperamental ocean but also to sharks and other dangerous marine life. As the search went from one day to the next, the hopeful rescuers began to doubt a potential happy ending for the young man. Nonetheless, an HC-130 aircraft crew dedicated itself to an organized search covering as much ocean as they could by making long sweeps and sharp turns. Astonishingly, and to the joy of the search team, they spotted the craft about 12 miles off the coast. 

Gregory waved to his rescuers; shortly thereafter the Coast Guard picked him up and brought him back to shore. Gregory says he had begun to lose hope but thanked God for his rescue. He will need to recover from several jelly fish stings, dehydration, Rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of damaged muscles), sun related damage to lips and unprotected skin as Gregory was not wearing a shirt and was seriously burned. He said he was sun burned during the day and freezing at night. Gregory survived his 38 hour ordeal and appeared to be in good spirits as he gave journalists the shaka otherwise known as the “hang loose” hand signal.

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