Shayne Roberts, a Sarasota man, lives on his A 50-FOOT SAILING YACHT called the Long Shot.
When he knew hurricane Irma was approaching his home port, Roberts and three passengers sailed north on Sunday to escape the storm.
While they were on the water, Roberts explained that the transmission left the boat at the mercy of the storm.
“There were two instances where we literally caught the crosslap of some waves and we probably went 45 to 50 feet in the air, spun around 360 degrees and slid back down waves,” he said.
He then called his friend who retired from the Coast Guard, who then contacted Roberts’ family.
Roberts said that help arrived shortly after that.
“About 1:30 in the morning, I get a phone call on the satellite phone saying ‘hey we’ve gotta A C-130 on the way and a helicopter right behind them,'” he explained. “And I knew at that time, bottom line is — rescue was coming.”
Once they arrived, divers boarded the Long Shot to rescue everyone on board. Mindi, one of Roberts’ passengers, was the first to jump.
“We all had to get to the stern of the boat and pretty much jump off the boat with 30 foot waves with one of the rescuers and get picked up into a basket and lifted into a really big helicopter,” Mindi said.
Roberts, who was reluctant to leave his boat, jumped last.
“A diver, my other friend and I jumped third after I cut the sails, and then I got everything relaxed to slow things down so she wasn’t just on sailing hardcore randomly through the middle of the Gulf that way,” he said.
The Pensacola-based helicopter flew them to the Panama City Airport, leaving the yacht behind.
Roberts is deeply upsetted about leaving his boat, and plans to return to Sarasota to begin his search for the Longshot.
He is asking anyone with information about his yacht to contact the Coast Guard, or him at (941) 536-5589.