A 19-year-old fisherman whose boat capsized in the chilly waters of southern Alaska floated for more than 24 hours in a 4-foot plastic fish tote, singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to keep his spirits up during an anxious night.
Ryan Harris was finally rescued from his battle with 8-foot waves by a Coast Guard helicopter, which had joined a massive search of the waters around Sitka, Alaska, for Harris and his crewmate, Stonie Huffman, according to the Sitka Daily Sentinel.
Huffman survived, too, although he didn’t have a bin in which to float. Instead he was able to don a buoyant survival suit, grab onto the lid of one of the fishing bins and battle the crashing waves to head toward shore.
“It’s truly a miracle they survived,” Sitka Mountain Rescue director Don Kluting told the newspaper, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Click play for the Coast Guard rescue hoist of Harris.
The two men had set out for a routine day of fishing for coho salmon when they were hit with twin problems: a failed hydraulics system and high waves crashing around their aluminum boat.
Just as they managed to make repairs to the hydraulic system, the boat went down a steep wave that dumped a deluge of water into the bow of the boat. Almost immediately a second large wave hit the stern and the two men found themselves in the water, with the boat going down.
Huffman helped Harris climb into a bin, but couldn’t get into one himself, instead grabbing onto a lid of one of the bins and struggling into a survival suit that was drifting nearby. With waves reaching 8 feet, it took him two hours to get into the suit, and by that time, the two men were no longer in view of each other.
“I never thought I was going to die, but I was worried about Mac,” Harris told the paper.