Ohio Man Clung to His Capsized Boat for Entire Night After Being Caught in 'Huge' Lake Erie Storm

A sailor whose boat capsized clung to the vessel for around 12 hours overnight as he waited to be rescued, according to officials. The man was out on Lake Erie on Sunday evening when a storm hit the area, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

He went to the bow of his vessel to adjust a line when a wave suddenly came over and swamped it, Bethannie Kittrell, commanding officer for U.S. Coast Guard Station Marblehead told Newsweek.

Unable to withstand the storm, the boat capsized at around 8 p.m., casting the man into the water. He was floating around 4.5 miles offshore, according to 13ABC.com.

Some 12 hours later, just before 8 a.m. on Monday, a commercial fishing crew spotted the man in the water, holding on to the hull of his overturned boat.

capsized boat, lake erie, ohio, ottawa county,
An image released by the U.S. Coast Guard showing a boat which capsized on Sunday evening, which its sailor clung to for 12 hours. U.S. Coast Guard Station Marblehead

Passengers and crew on the Waterfox, which had set off from Fisherman's Wharf to the south west of Lake Erie, worked together to pull the man from the water, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The vessel then headed towards the city of Port Clinton, Ottawa County, which borders Lake Erie and the Portage River to get help. A U.S. Coast Guard responding boat arrived on the scene and took the man to members of the emergency services waiting at Port Clinton. The two vessels met around a mile offshore, Chief Petty Officer Turner told 13ABC.com.

According to a post on the Fisherman's Wharf Facebook page, the captain and first mate of the Waterfox set sail at 7 a.m. on Monday morning, and spotted what they thought was a light flashing from a jet ski.

As they approached the light, "they found a gentleman holding onto his overturned sailboat. We had a huge storm system roll thru are area last night with very very strong wind which caused the sailboat to capsize around 8pm last night," the post read.

The first mate told 13ABC.com "as we got closer, it just looked too odd-shaped and too big to be a jet ski, and I realized this was probably going to be a more serious situation." 13ABC identified the first mate as Brant Cook, while he was named Brandt in the Facebook post.

Captain Eric Langermeier told the broadcaster that Cook looked at him with "eyes big as saucers, and we realized it was a guy straddling the hull of his boat."

Langermeier said he noticed the man was "capsized, had no radio and had lost his cell phone. It even happened so fast that he'd lost his life jacket."

The crew removed his wet clothes, and dressed him in their customers' dry clothes to try to warm him up, said Langermeier.

"He couldn't really walk that well—his hips and legs were kind of shot—but he was in good shape otherwise," recalled Langermeier.

The man's wife told 13ABC.com her husband was sailing home to Port Clinton from Put-In-Bay when he came into trouble.

The man developed hypothermia after spending so long in the cold water. The condition occurs when the body is exposed to very low temperatures for a prolonged period of time, causing it to lose heat faster than it can produce, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A low body temperature can affect the brain, changing a person's ability to move or think clearly.

"Luckily, the survivor stayed with his vessel through the night which aided in him being detected [by] the other mariner early this am," the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Kittrell told Newsweek Rescue Marine salvaged the vessel on Monday.

Following the man's ordeal, the U.S. Coast Guard released advice for sailors: "Remember to check the weather before going out, wear your life jacket, and if your boat capsizes, try to climb on top of the hull or stay with the debris; which aids us in detecting you in the water," the organization said.

This article has been updated with comment from Bethannie Kittrell.