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Two fishermen rescued after drifting atop capsized boat for eight days

Coast Guard helicopter plucks the two Bahamians from bottom of boat 30 miles off Florida coast; both were severely dehydrated and hypothermic

Two fishermen from the Bahamas are lucky to be alive after spending eight days clinging to the bottom of their overturned boat with no food or water before a cargo ship miraculously spotted the desperate pair and radioed the Coast Guard for help.

A Coast Guard rescue helicopter found the two 30 miles off the Florida coast between Boca Raton and West Palm Beach, and the Bahamas around 5 p.m. Saturday and lifted them to safety, according to CBS and the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.

“I swam over and you could see they were excited,” Coast Guard rescue swimmer Kyle Stallings told CBS. “They definitely were on their last ray of hope. They were ready to get off that boat.”

The men, in their mid 50s and not wearing life jackets, were hypothermic, severely dehydrated, and vomiting from ingesting saltwater. They were completely waterlogged, as they were lying in six inches of water on the top of the boat. Stallings told the Sun Sentinel that their skin was deteriorating, their eyes were droopy, and that when he pinched their skin, it stayed in place for about four seconds, which is a sign of dehydration.

“Timing was huge in this—if the freighter hadn’t seen them they would have been riding that Gulf Stream up to the north,” Coast Guard helicopter pilot Jerod Glover told the Sun Sentinel.

“They had nothing to hold on to; they were just lying flat and hoping they didn’t slide off.”

The Coast Guard told the newspaper that the Bahamians had been out fishing when their boat capsized but had no further details.

CBS reported Monday morning that the men were still in the hospital, and would get help returning home once they recovered.

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Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard