Two British men in heavy fog ended up floating for three hours in the North Atlantic near South Shields, England, with only a gas can to stay afloat after their powerboat, Drowning Rat, sank Sunday, according to local newspaper The Shields Gazette.
The men were on their way to the Sunderland International Airshow at about 4:30 p.m. But when their friends in separate boats hadn’t seen Drowning Rat for some 90 minutes, they called the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Lifeboats were launched, but the fog was so dense that visibility was nearly zero, according to the report.
Shortly thereafter, another lifeboat was sent to search for the boaters north of Sunderland. Three hours later, the commercial fishing boat Vickyjo IV spotted the two men a half-mile north of Tynemouth pier, several miles north of Sunderland, and hauled them aboard.
Drowning Rat had no communications equipment on board, and authorities say the crew appeared to be seasick and suffering from hypothermia. They were airlifted from Vickyjo IV by a Royal Air Force helicopter and taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary for treatment.
“It’s something of a miracle that they were found, as visibility was so poor they might never have been spotted, and they were several miles from the area where they were suspected to have been,” stated Adrian Don, spokesperson for Tynemouth RNLI Station.
— Elizabeth Ellis