Fire strands boating couple in middle of the Gulf

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A Manatee County couple says they're just glad to be alive after being stranded in a dingy on the Gulf of Mexico.

Amy and Glenn McIntyre were on their way back from the Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys last month when their boat caught fire.

"I opened up the hatch to the engine room and the smoke just comes pouring up out of there," Glenn said.

At that point, the McIntyres had traveled about 90 miles and were still 30 miles away from Marco Island. The only other vessel they'd seen until then was a fishing boat.

The couple realized they had no choice but to abandon their 42-foot Hatteras Cruiser -- the same one they got married on two years ago.

"I busted the window out with a spare anchor," Glenn said, "pulled out a jug of water and two boxes of cereal, figured we could live two days on that."

"I'm thinking, 'OK, we're going to have to get off the boat. Nobody knows where we're at and nobody goes this way,'" added Amy, who tried for about an hour to radio the Coast Guard, but didn't have any luck.

The McIntyres jumped into a raft with their two puppies and prayed.

"There were going be two things that [could] happen: Either we're going to get rescued or we're going to heaven," Amy said. "There's always those thoughts of, 'I wish I could say goodbye to people or tell them I love them one more time.'"

"Once we got on the raft, got away from the boat, then the flames shot up probably 20, 30 feet high," added Glenn.

After about two hours, the McIntyres' prayers were answered: A passenger on the Key West Express noticed the smoke and told a crew member.

"It was just unbelievable that it happened so quickly and overjoyed, obviously, and thankful," Amy said.

"It was a hallelujah moment for sure," said Glenn.