The boating season never ends in South Florida, which means Coast Guard stations there are busy year-round.
"Coast Guard Florida," a reality show that premiered on The Weather Channel last October, delivers an on-board view of a variety of missions, from drug busts to search and rescues.
In one episode, a crew aboard a 33-foot SPC-LE (special purpose craft — law enforcement) from Station Key West finds an overturned hull that’s barely visible in the swells. Then they realize there are three people clinging to it.
“Pulling people out of the water in a sea state like that is a very complex ordeal,” one Coast Guardsman explains in the segment. “If you’re sitting beam to the seas, your boat can rock and land on top of the person you’re trying to pull out.”
Click play to watch.
“There wasn’t much of the boat sticking up. They were clinging pretty hard to hold onto it,” says another Coast Guardsman. “I couldn’t imagine what these guys were going through. They were on an upside down boat for about four hours, waves crashing over their back, just basically hanging on for their lives.”
The Station Key West covers approximately 2,500 square miles in the lower Florida Keys.
In a special “behind the scenes” segment, cameraman Ruben Sandoval Jr. explains how the show is shot, including the challenges of keeping his camera steady while blasting through the water.