A group of Florida fishermen returned from sea Saturday to find out they were being searched for by the Coast Guard. The Jacksonville Sector of the Coast Guard received a mayday in the early afternoon of August 29. The alert, which ended up being a miscommunication, led to an intense search for the fishing charter near Jacksonville.
A post on Facebook urged anyone with information to aid in the search.
The Drop Hook fishing charter was “missing” for nearly 6 hours and had at least 7 people aboard. The Florida fishermen returned to the dock to find family, friends, and U.S. Coast Guard representatives waiting anxiously for their return.
After a call was made to report seeing flares, the Coast Guard could not get back in touch with the boat. They assumed the charter was in distress. Causing further alarm, coordinates couldn’t be located by the Coast Guard at the time of the call. As a result, the search was based on the boarding location, near St. John’s Inlet.
US Coast Guard Station Mayport helped searched in the ocean. Additionally, US Coast Guard Air Station Savannah and Clearwater aided, searching from above in the air.
The boat finally returned to the Mayport boat ramp around 8 pm, six hours after the original alert sparked the search.
“When I came back I found that it was on the internet and I had no idea,” Drop Hook’s captain, Mike Ardolino tells News4Jax. He explains they had to travel back slowly, due to a storm that hit on their way back in. “We were trying to come back in and the storm hit us,” Ardolino explains, “so we had to do about 10 miles per hour.”
News4Jax reports that prior to the charter’s return, a dozen people gathered on the dock, praying for their safe return. Though the well wishes weren’t completely necessary, Ardolino is extremely thankful for the support and prayers from the community.