Boat sinks, leaving fishermen stranded off Naples

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Three Pinellas County men floating in a life raft were rescued by the Coast Guard early Monday morning.

The three-man crew left from Fort Myers Beach last Wednesday. They were 90-miles off the coast of Naples, about five days into a two-week-long fishing trip when their boat started taking on water.

The first mate said it was terrifying.

Working on a 32-foot fishing boat named Miss Saturia, Kyle Haskins said they didn’t have time to react.

“[We] went inside and ate dinner, 20 minutes later [we came] back outside and all hell’s broken loose,” Haskins remembered. “The boat’s four feet under water on the back. I mean, everything that’s supposed to be on the deck has washed over the back of the rails; all gone.”

Haskins said they grabbed life jackets, made a mayday call, and jumped in the life raft, from which they watched the boat sink.

“[The boat] started going nose up, and all the sudden it got into the crew’s quarters. When it got into the crew’s quarters, it pretty much broke in half. That’s when it just released everything, I mean, debris went everywhere, you could hear it just crumbling,” Haskins said.

The men floated in the dark for about two hours, trying to stay calm. A Coast Guard helicopter from Clearwater and a plane from Miami found them around 4 a.m.

“Once I heard that plane it was a welcomed sound,” Haskins said with a laugh. “It really was.”

They were hoisted out of the water and into the chopper, so grateful to the crew for rescuing them.

“I hope I never go through it again,” Haskins said.

The Coast Guard says all three men did everything correctly in the emergency. Haskins said he may be a little more cautious on the water, but can’t wait to get back to fishing.