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Man found clinging to capsized boat 86 miles from shore in 'truly extraordinary' rescue

A 62-year-old Florida man was found clinging to the bow of his submerged vessel after being lost at sea for three days for an "extraordinary" rescue.
/ Source: TODAY

A 62-year-old Florida man is lucky to be alive after a "truly extraordinary" rescue 86 miles from the shore in which he was found clinging to a tiny portion of a 32-foot boat.

Stuart Bee was found weathered and dehydrated by the cargo ship Angeles on Sunday afternoon after a predicament in which the U.S. Coast Guard estimated he had about a one in a hundred million chance of surviving.

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"I didn't see anybody," Bee told Kerry Sanders on TODAY via a ship-to-shore radio. "I thought, this is it!"

Bee then saw the container ship in the distance but couldn't tell if it was coming in his direction or not because he didn't have his glasses. He said he took his shirt off and began waving it at the ship, which will return him to land later on Tuesday when it docks in Delaware.

Mark Vlaun, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville in Florida, had never witnessed a rescue like this one.

Florida truck driver Stuart Bee, 62, was found by a cargo ship clinging to his 32-foot boat nearly 90 miles from the Florida coast in an incredible rescue. USCG

"A person standing on a bowsprit is the kind of, it's almost a made-for-TV moment," Vlaun told Sanders. "That is the first time I've seen anything like that my 27 years of doing this. That is a truly extraordinary case."

Bee was found with his arms wrapped around the bow of his 32-foot boat, three days after he left port and 86 miles from coast of Port Canaveral, Florida. Photos of the scene show him nearly blending in with the Atlantic Ocean, making it like finding "a dark finger against a dark ocean in the middle of nowhere," according to Vlaun.

"I can't even put into words how shocking it is that they saw him out there on that water, 86 miles from shore," Vlaun said.

Bee told the Coast Guard he doesn't know how the boat sank because it started to take on water when he was sleeping. He had emergency equipment onboard that could send out a distress signal with his location, but it was underwater.

"Three times I tried to hold my breath and swim down and get it but I couldn't reach it," he said.

The unbelievable rescue has left his family grateful for his return.

"The first thing he said was, 'You're never going to guess what happened to me,'" his niece, Leisa Bee, told Sanders. "I'm in disbelief. I can't believe that they found him."