BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Clinging to the bow of his capsized Sea Ray, 62-year-old missing boater Stuart Bee was stranded alone at sea Sunday morning roughly 86 miles east of Port Canaveral.
Fortunately, crew members aboard the 225-foot container ship Angeles spotted Bee and rescued him about 11 a.m. ET, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class David Micallef said.
Bee departed Cape Marina at Port Canaveral about 4 p.m. Friday aboard Stingray, his 32-foot Sea Ray, but he did not return. He was reported missing shortly before noon Saturday by a marina member, who told Coast Guard officials Bee typically does not stay out overnight on his boat.
Bee’s boat became disabled at sea because of a mechanical issue, Micallef said. About midnight Saturday, Bee was awakened from sleep because his crippled craft was taking on water in the darkness — and sinking.
When the Angeles approached Sunday morning, Bee took off his shirt and waved it around to attract attention, Micallef said.
U.S. Coast Guard personnel — including a C-130 Hercules aircraft crew based in Clearwater — had searched for Bee and his boat Sunday morning across a large area offshore of Brevard County.
“It’s an amazing story. We’re just very thankful for the motor vessel Angeles and their entire crew for keeping a sharp lookout,” Micallef said.
“And we’re just very thankful, especially during this holiday season, that we can bring this man home to his family,” he said.
Micallef said Coast Guard officials had issued an “enhanced group call” — a transmission intended for larger vessels transiting the area — to look out for Bee and his Sea Ray.
According to Vessel Finder, Angeles is a container ship built in 2010 that sails under the flag of Liberia.
Angeles is en route from the Port of Puerto Barrios in Guatemala to the Port of Wilmington in Delaware, Vessel Finder reports.
“Their crew spotted the vessel — capsized. And as they approached it, they saw the man clinging to it. And they were able to recover him onto their motor vessel,” Micallef said.
A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol airplane also participated in the search for the missing mariner.
“Saving lives at sea is our highest calling. This is a truly incredible outcome that demonstrates the bond among all mariners and our community,” Capt. Mark Vlaun, commander of Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, said in a Sunday afternoon press release.
“Thank you to our mission partners that launch into action and to all who got the word out to find and rescue Mr. Bee,” Vlaun said.
Follow Rick Neale on Twitter: @RickNeale1.