CLEARWATER -- Three boaters were rescued early Monday by the Coast Guard after being stranded in the Gulf of Mexico near Cedar Key.
According to officials, the boaters spent about 10 hours clinging to the hull of their 16-foot Catamaran. The boaters were adrift two miles south east of Atsena Otie Key.
The boaters, ages 53, 40 and 16, went out for a late afternoon boating trip Sunday afternoon. They were reported missing by a family member Sunday night.
The Coast Guard launched a search just after sundown and found the boaters, in their lifejackets, holding on to the boat in seven-foot, gusty seas.
The boaters were rescued by a helicopter and flown to the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Coast Guard facility. The boaters were taken to Largo Medical Center for observation.
The boaters' names and conditions have not been released yet. It appears the men will recover.
Coast Guard officials, who found the men on the last leg of their seven-hour search, said the boaters were fortunate. Their Catamaran had no motor, lights, electronics or emergency equipment aboard, according to officials.
Coast Guard crews used night vision to locate the boaters.
"This case could of turned out differently," said Richard Hutchinson, a Coast Guard search and rescue coordinator at Sector St. Petersburg. "These mariners are lucky to be alive; a case like this highlights how fast an emergency at sea, even one close to shore, can turn into a life or death situation."