ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR)– Originally from Roanoke, Andrew and Jack Sherman have been off-shore fishermen for a combined total of 50 years.
While vacationing at their getaway home in Wilmington, North Carolina, both father and son took their boat out on Tuesday, July 6 to fish off of the Wilmington coast. They were fishing for either Mahi or Dolphinfish when they saw a boat coming straight towards their boat.
According to Andrew, Jack’s father, when out on the water, boats should never come close to each other without warning. The abandoned boat started curving in a circular motion, and the two were not able to see anyone aboard.
“There was no one at the wheel, and there was no one at the back deck, and all the rods were out trolling the back deck. We both looked at each other and said, ‘Man this is eerie. It was literally a ghost boat,'” said Andrew.
All boats typically come with a kill switch, so if anyone is not manning the boat, it will turn off by itself. Andrew believed that the boat’s kill switch was turned off.
However, the boat was not going fast enough. Andrew carefully drove next to the boat, to match its speed, and then had Jack jump onto it to shut it down. Once on the boat, Jack found a wallet with an ID and called in what they found to the North Carolina Coast Guard.
Andrew switched with Jack, noticing that on the boat’s GPS monitor, it was driving in a straight line. Whoever was on the boat put down a three-way point, which fishermen place to identify hooks going into the water and more.
The two sprang into action.
“I told Jack, you go to where the last waypoint was that he manually put on the screen, and you do circles around that. I am going to go to this big loop the boat did, and I am going to search in that area,” said Andrew.
After 15 to 20 minutes, Jack found a pair of floating deck boots. Moments later, Jack’s dad found the man treading water. They placed the swim platform in the water, and the man hauled himself on board. According to Jack, he just laid there on his back and said his legs were cramping.
Andrew and Jack found out that the man took off his life jacket because he wanted to get a tan. He leaned over the side of the boat, tripped on something, and fell into the water. The man who went overboard asked Andrew to keep his identity private.