Bass Boater Stranded in Everglades - 10/29/2008

In mid-October Jack Furley was blasting his 18’ bass boat through the Florida Everglades at 70 mph when he hit a patch of sawgrass. The boat crashed, Furley was injured, and he couldn’t walk out – at least not in one piece. You can guess what was going through Furley’s mind, and it wasn’t largemouth bass. He did not have a VHF radio, only a cell phone, a device not known to be effective in the middle of the Everglades. To find out what happened to our speed demon -- snap your choppers.

Everglades Crocs
Boater capsizes in Everglades canal –
“We’ll eat like kings!”

"I called 911. I had to get out of there. I knew I wasn't walking out," Furley said. He was lucky to have cell coverage so far into the weeds and had it not been for that, Furley might have been lunch for some of the local inhabitants. After firefighters and officials searched for him for hours and couldn’t find him they ultimately called in a SAR helicopter to help.

Mr. Brave

Furley was quickly found and plucked from the vessel and carried in the chopper to the boat ramp where he had launched earlier in the day.

With a paramedic on each arm, Furley walked out of the helicopter with a smile on his face and cuts on his forehead. "I only hit the weeds at about 70 miles an hour," Furley joked.

Furley, who was treated in an ambulance and allowed to go home, said he knew he was lucky. But he was not frightened. "I'm never scared. Right hand to God," he said. "No, really, it's just, you deal with it. That's how I was raised and that's how I'm as lucky as I am."

Moral of the Story?

Reports like this cross our desk every day. We often wonder where some boaters were hiding when brains were handed out. But many boaters seem to have a thirst for speed as well as beer, (unfortunately sometimes at the same time). The good thing about Furley was that he was alone, thus did not jeopardize another with his reckless boat handling. That he was still within cell range was dumb luck, but if he had had a VHF radio he would have increased his chances of rescue.

As someone once said, “God looks after children, drunks, and boaters.” Amen.