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I'm not sure we can call this a true survival story, but there is no doubt that my ACR PLB saved our beacon in April of this year. Twice a year, spring and fall, I take a weekend fishing trip with two buddies out of Ft. Desoto Park in St. Petersburg, FL. We time our trip to coincide with the annual Kingfish run. I have a 25 foot single engine boat and our typical daily run is due west anywhere from 15-25 miles. On this spring run we had been offshore for several hours, had calm seas and great weather. We'd boated several grouper and a couple of Kingfish and were taking our time moving from some hard bottom over to another spot we knew with a small ledge. I was running around 3000 RPM and only going 15 kts when my motor suddenly revved up and the boat came to a complete standstill. I raised the motor and quickly discovered that my prop shaft had sheared off and taken my propeller with it. With only one engine and no kicker we'd just lost our only form of propulsion.
We dropped anchor in 70 feet of water and I got on my radio to try and raise sea tow. I hailed on all channels for 30 minutes but was never able to connect to anyone. I could see a container ship off my bow not more than 5 miles from my position, but try as I might I could not raise them. I also had a fishing vessel come by my location within 2-3 miles. I set off a rescue flare, but since it was the middle of the afternoon they apparently didn't see the flare. We'd filed a float plan before leaving, but since we were between spots anyone looking for us would not have an exact location to search for us. After deliberating with my friends for a few more minutes I decided to deploy my ACR PLB. This was pretty uneventful as nothing really happened after I did this, but after 35 minutes it was pretty clear that the beacon worked. We could see due east of us a ship approaching at high speed, pointed exactly at our location. We also soon saw an HC-130 Coast Guard plane overhead.
The CG crew hailed us, assessed our situation and quickly pulled up along side. Dead in the water definitely qualifies as a maritime emergency and in no time we were tied off to the CG ship and being towed back in. Once we were within VHF range, I called Sea Tow and had them meet up with the CG, approximately 7 miles offshore, where we were picked up and towed the rest of the way in. I've seen much more grizzly stories on here, but I can attest that almost anything can qualify as a crisis and heading offshore without my PLB is definitely not an option.
Thank you ACR!
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