Two U.S. Navy SEALs found themselves in a race against time Monday morning as they waved for help from the hull of their capsized boat off the coast of San Diego, not knowing how long they had before it would sink completely.
At this time of year, ocean and air temperatures create hypothermic conditions. The sailors had no phone, life jackets, food or water, but apparently had a little bit of luck.
The 65-foot fishing charter Pegasus was just starting its fishing day when its captain, peering through his binoculars, spotted the SEALs waving their arms for help about 27 miles southwest of San Diego.
They had sent a distress call but were unable to include coordinates. When the Pegasus saw them, they were holding on to the only part of their 24-foot boat that wasn’t under water.
"They were tired from the drive out and they took on water,” Pegasus majority owner Joe Chait said. “It was too late. The boat started to roll over and once it goes, it goes.”
Chait wasn't on the charter during the rescue but he’s been in touch with his crew and captain since the incident.
"I'm really feeling good about it,” Chait said. “The fact that it could have gone the other way so easily, yes, I'm happy.”
Chait said the two men were waiting for help for two hours before his captain spotted them. He said both men were soaked, but in good shape overall.
Considering they were stranded that far out at a time of year when few recreational boats or even charters are in the water, Chait said the two-man crew should be counting their blessings.
"I feel very lucky for these men that my boat came across them," Chait said.
Rather than attempting another risky at-sea rescue, the U.S. Coast Guard asked the Pegasus crew to take the two SEAls to shore.
The SEALs were given clothes, food and comfortable rest on the fishing vessel while anglers completed their scheduled charter. Due to the sensitivity of their work, they wished not to be identified.
Pegasus began its trip back to San Diego at 6:30 p.m. Monday.