What began as a normal day of fishing for 19-year-old Ryan Harris and 40-year-old Stonie 'Mac' Huffman, ended up as what can only be described an adventure, neither will ever forget and, it's not because of the size of the catch either!
The saga began on the morning of Friday, September 7th, when the two Sitka, Alaska residents took off on their 28-foot aluminum boat in search of Coho Salmon. Two miles into the ocean, just off Cape Edgecombe, their boat began to have some mechanical issues. They managed to fix the problem, but decided to head back to shore anyway.
However, all of a sudden, the water turned choppy and before they could call for help or grab a life jacket, an eight-foot wave slammed hard against their boat and overturned it, tossing both men into the frigid 46°F Alaskan waters.
Stranded, they began to look around to see what they could grab and saw a couple of the empty fishing crates from the boat, floating around. Ryan managed to climb inside one. Stonie however, was not as lucky and managed to only grab onto the lid. Soon, they both started drifting apart.
While Ryan continued to bob up and down in his makeshift boat, the waves started carrying Stonie away. But as luck would have it, he caught sight of one of the life suits from their vessel floating in the ocean and managed to grab it.
Though putting it on and hanging on to the lid at the same time was no easy task, Stonie managed and then began his long swim back to shore. He ended up on a deserted patch of land about 25 miles northwest of Sitka, where he had to wait until Saturday morning almost 24 hours after the fishing trip began, for rescuers to find him.
Meanwhile, 19-year old Ryan continued to drift around the ocean trying to stay alive and hoping someone would find him. The brave teenager says he stayed positive by repeating to himself over and over again - 'I'm Ryan Hunter Harris and I'm not going to die here' and, by singing fun nursery rhymes like 'Row row row your boat', and Rudolph the red nose reindeer.'
Two hours after his friend was rescued and able to guide the Coast Guard and, a whopping 26 hours after the ordeal began, Ryan was finally found and brought back to shore! What was amazing was that besides a few scratches, the youngster was in perfect health. Will he ever venture out on fishing trip again? Only time will tell!
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