After Boat Sinks, Men Spend Days Rowing to Shore

This is what we call survival of the fittest! And perhaps a little luck came into play, too.

Have you ever had nightmares about what you would do if your boat hit an unknown object mid-ocean and sank suddenly? What if your radios were flooded, your EPIRB didn’t work, you couldn’t reach your life raft and you ended up in your dinghy?

It’s happened to two men who lived to tell the tale, and what a gripping story it is. They rowed for three days to reach Boca Raton on the Florida coastline.

How did they do it? What kept them going? “Keep moving!” Mike Ayres told Jerome Burdi and Peter Franceschina of the Sun Sentine, after the incident, “It’s like those survivor stories. Don’t stop. If you stop, you’re done.”

It took three days, but they finally made it, landing ashore on a Boca Raton beach about 6:20 a.m. Tuesday, after leaving Islamorada in the Florida Keys on their yacht Saturday afternoon.

Ayres, 46, an Islamorada snowbird who lives near Detroit, and Steffon Moore, 19, of Miami Gardens, a hired deckhand, were making the 85-nautical-mile trip to Bimini in the Bahamas to pick up a dive tank compressor.

But about five hours into their passage, the quick trip turned into a life-or-death journey. Their 41-foot yacht Lady Rosalee, capsized and sank in heavy seas 12 miles south of Gun Cay in the Bahamas, authorities said.

The Coast Guard was never notified of the sinking, so no search was launched, Petty Officer Sabrina Elgammal said.

Interviewed bedside in Boca Raton Regional Hospital, where he was recovering from hypothermia and dehydration, Ayres said he spent a month and a half working on the yacht before the trip.

“It was immaculate,” he said. “You could probably go around the world with it, except as we learned you’ve got to be careful.”

Underway at about 5 p.m. Saturday, the men heard a massive thump on the side of the hull. Ayres, a lumberjack, doesn’t know what he hit, but it caused the sea to come rushing into the yacht, in a spot about 1,400 feet deep.

For the complete story, go to www.sail-world.com.

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