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HAULOVER (CBSMiami) — Two boaters are back on solid ground Wednesday after they said they were stuck at sea for two days.
The men said their boat became disabled off Marathon while on a fishing trip and were rescued Wednesday afternoon off Haulover Beach. The Good Samaritan who called the Coast Guard is speaking out.
“I hope they are going to be okay,” said Captain Charley, who owns a charter boat company and who called the Coast Guard at 12:10 p.m. after spotting the men. “I just did what I was trained to do. Don’t get too close to a vessel and call for help.”
Captain Charley told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that even though the men claimed they were fishing, he did not see any fishing rods aboard their boat. And the boat’s engine was missing a cover.
The U.S. Coast Guard says the boat was found some five miles east of Haulover Beach. Miami Fire Rescue responded and towed the 22-foot cutty cabin to the Haulover Marine Center. The Coast Guard took the two men aboard a cutter for questioning.
“I was on my private boat on a fishing trip and I was headed back in from being 12 miles offshore. When I was headed back in, I saw a vessel that looked way out of normal. It had its Bimini top off and I figured it was out in the wind with no power,” said Captain Charley. “I didn’t want to get too close because I didn’t know what was going on. Anything can happen out there. I saw two occupants on board and they seemed to be okay.”
He described the men as “weathered” and “sunburned.”
“As soon as I saw them I called the Coast Guard and I hung around for about 15 minutes after the Coast Guard and Miami Fire Rescue boat got there,” he said. “I was probably 50 to 75 yards away from the vessel. They seemed okay but there was no real communication with them. They were Spanish-speaking. I am half-Cuban and I know they speak Spanish.”
They were asking for help, though.
“They were saying we need rescue and we need help,” he said. “They said call the Coast Guard. If they are Cuban, I know they are going to go back. That is the way the ball rolls.”
Captain Charley said he had some questions. He first noticed the cover of the engine was missing and that seemed to indicate “engine issues.”
“I saw them so far offshore with no fishing rods on the boat and I said, ‘what are you guys doing out here adrift’ and they looked kind of funny,” he added.
Captain Charley said he’s come across a dozen rafts with no one on them in his 10 years as a charter boat captain and said he had never encountered a stranded vessel with people on board.
Petty Officer Eric Woodall said he was waiting to hear back from investigators.
“We want to know if the communication equipment was working or if it malfunctioned, and what made it malfunction, and how long the boat was disabled,” said Ofc. Woodall.