Lone NC angler falls overboard while trolling, boat leaves him behind


Angler was treading water for an hour when rescued

An angler who has not been identified fell off his 23-foot Parker fishing boat on July 5, 2021. His boat was in gear and left him behind, 37 miles off the coast of Wrightsville Beach. Two anglers said the man’s boat almost hit them in the ocean when they realized no one was on board.

Capt. Ryan Saporito of Sea Tow received a call from the two anglers and dispatched a rescue vessel. Meanwhile, the two anglers boarded the driverless boat and got it under control. They checked the boat’s navigation system, which showed the route it had been on when they found it.

Saporito said the two anglers then retraced the boat’s route. They found the boat’s owner about 45 minutes later. He was treading water, was tired, and was beginning to cramp. He was very lucky the other fishermen found his boat and had the knowledge to use its navigation system to find him before it was too late, said Saporito.

Angler was not wearing a life jacket or outboard kill switch

The angler wasn’t wearing his kill switch lanyard, which would have shut his boat down immediately, allowing him a chance to climb back aboard. But Saporito said it is common for anglers not to wear the device when fishing alone.

“Most people don’t wear them when you’re fishing. It’s a cord. You need to be mobile. I’m really not surprised that it happened,” he said.

But he stressed the importance of wearing this device, and said wireless kill switches are now available and provide the freedom anglers need to move about the boat while also affording them the safety necessary in circumstances just like this one.

“They are cumbersome with the traditional way they were always installed with a cord. But the wireless ones are invaluable. They really are,” he said.

Saporito said his Sea Tow crew members wear the wireless models. They allow the motor to continue running until the driver is 50 feet away from the ignition.

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About Brian Cope 2054 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of CarolinaSportsman.com. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@sportsmannetwork.com.

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