A 35-year-old man from Florida got the chance to meet and thank the U.S. Coast Guard members who saved him and his dog from their burning boat.
The mariner and his dog, Evi, became stranded after their 30-foot sailboat, Southern Belle, which was also their home, caught fire nearly 70 miles west of Hudson, Florida on July 10.
"I called the Coast Guard just said mayday, mayday, mayday, burning boat, burning boat, we're abandoning boat," said the mariner.
After relaying the mayday call again, the boat's name and the coordinates, the man said he spotted the helicopter from his dingy.
"As I was getting closer and closer it was a relief. Every inch it went up I was getting happier and happier. I almost jumped out of the basket," said the man.
The man and the dog were rescued by a crew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk that included a flight mechanic, rescue swimmer and both pilots. All were on hand to greet the man and his dog at the Coast Guard Air Station in Clearwater on Monday.
"When I came back today and actually got to meet the people, it was very heartwarming to know that these people come and do their job just to, you know, come get people like me," said the man.
Despite the harrowing ordeal, the man said he plans on heading back out into the open waters by Christmas, but warns of taking the proper precautions.
"You can't ever have enough safety equipment," he said.
"Maybe if I had five more fire extinguishers I'd still have everything I owned and I'd be spending the summer with my son, and five wasn't enough. So, just be prepared, and if you think there is a problem go ahead and call the Coast Guard."