JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - They were towed to shore by the Coast Guard in the middle of the night. But it's not what John Land and his friends expected.
"We just appreciate having them back," said his friend Scott Merkle.
About 20 miles from West Palm Beach the engine on their boat, the Shade Maker, died.
"I think i blew an oil pan gasket," Land said.
Being an experienced fisherman Land knew what to do but said his radio failed. "That's what the problem was the damn radio wouldn't work and the distress signal, nothing would work."
They got caught in the Gulf Stream and drifted for miles. Kevin Wood said it was tense when they ran into a storm. "It was a little scary but we were making do and surviving with what we had."
The boaters had flares and fired off nine of them. "We bounced flares out for freighters and what not and it was like nobody seen them," Land said.
Land said that he knew his family, friends and the Coast Guard were searching for them, and that gave them hope. "We could hear on the radio, we could hear everybody looking for us, but could not get back to them."
Then they were spotted by the USS Leyte Gulf, a Navy frigate, 85 miles off of the coast of Jacksonville.
"They drug us quite a ways until the Coast Guard come out and got us," Land said.
Land said they never gave up and ate what they caught to keep their strength. "Last night we had raw dolphin and a lil spicy mustard cause we caught a bunch of dolphins."
What was supposed to be a routine fishing trip turned into a story of survival and gratitude.
"It is good to be, I mean I'm looking at buildings and trees and stuff. That's a beautiful thing because out there we couldn't see the glare of the city lights anymore," Land said.
©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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