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Captain Falls Overboard and Floats for Four Hours Without a Lifejacket

On Sunday, the captain of a fishing vessel went over the side without a life jacket off Panama City, Florida, and managed to stay afloat for four hours before a good samaritan arrived to rescue him. 

At about 0400 hours on Sunday morning, Coast Guard Sector Mobile watchstanders received a call on Channel 16 from a crewmember on the fishing vessel Fiona Leone. The caller reported that the captain of the vessel had fallen overboard while the vessel was on autopilot. 

Watchstanders at Sector Mobile issued an urgent call for assistance to shipping in the area. They also called for the launch of a response boat crew, an Ocean Sentry search aircraft and the cutter Diamondback to assist in the search. 

After four hours in the water without a life jacket, the captain was rescued by the good samaritan vessel New Beginnings. The New Beginnings rendezvoused with the Coast Guard boat crew, which transferred the captain back to the Fiona Leone. He was in good condition, and when he was returned to his ship, he safely navigated it back to port.

"To survive in the water without a life jacket as the captain did is difficult for anyone to accomplish. The Coast Guard continues to urge the boating public to practice safe boating by wearing life jackets, using kill switches and having the proper communication equipment," said Capt. Cassie Kitchen, Sector Mobile search and rescue mission coordinator. "We’d like to commend the crew of the New Beginnings on their vigilance and willingness to help."

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