Port of Wilmington

Florida Man Rescued by Banana Boat Comes Ashore in Delaware

Stuart Bee's boat capsized 86 miles off the Florida coast and he floated in the Atlantic Ocean for hours before he was rescued by a cargo boat hauling Chiquita bananas.

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Coming ashore in the Port of Wilmington Tuesday afternoon, Stuart Bee was exhausted, but grateful.

Overnight Saturday into Sunday, his boat capsized 86 miles off the coast of Florida. As he clung to the tip of the boat just barely above the water, he didn't think he'd survive; no one was around. Time was a blur, and he doesn't know if he was out there for 3 or 12 hours.

He told the U.S. Coast Guard that his boat's engine was making squealing noises, according to NBC 6 South Florida. Bee went to sleep but woke up to the boat flooding with water before it tipped below the surface.

He had equipment that could be used to send out a distress signal, but it got stuck underwater, so far below that he couldn't hold his breath long enough to dive down and reach it.

Luckily, a 225-foot cargo boat hauling Chiquita bananas was headed his way.

The Angeles, bound for Delaware, looked like a small spot on the horizon at first, Bee said.

But as it got closer, Bee took off his shirt and waved it in the air. He said the boat blew its horn, which he took as a signal that the crew saw him. Soon they welcomed him aboard.

Bee said the crew of the Angeles was excited to have him and treated him well.

“It was better than a cruise ship, I’ve been on one once. And these guys are just the nicest people ever, they kept feeding me and I said “oh I don’t eat that much,” Bee said.

His niece is now flying to Philly to pick up her uncle and take him back to Florida. Bee is relieved to be alive and joked that he'll eat a peanut butter and Chiquita banana sandwich soon.

"I had an incident out there, it was pretty dire," Bee told a group of reporters at the Port of Wilmington. "Looking back at it now, thanks to the crew of the Angeles picking me up, it seems not so bad after all."

Contact Us