Amid a steady stream of suspected or confirmed hoax radio calls along the Gulf Coast of Florida, one mayday came in from a fisherman on Thursday night that turned out to be very real.
The unidentified fisherman in a 12-foot dinghy was "beset by weather" and his boat was taking on water less than a mile west of Fort De Soto, Florida, prompting him to make two mayday calls on Channel 16 of his VHF-FM marine band radio, according to the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard from Sector St. Petersburg, just north of Fort De Soto, responded by activating the area's Marine Emergency Response Team, which sent a helicopter crew from Air Station Clearwater.
The call was received at 7:48 p.m. The helicopter arrived at 8:46 p.m. and hoisted the fisherman to safety moments before his boat capsized and began to sink.
Fortunately the fisherman was uninjured.
"This could of been a tragic situation,” Lt. Matthew Mayer, an MH-60 Jayhawk pilot from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, said in a Coast Guard news release. "Thankfully the fisherman had a working VHF radio so he could alert us of the distress immediately and we were able to rescue him in time.
"However, I recommend all boaters pay close attention to the local forecast before even leaving the dock.”