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Hero rescuers pluck elderly man from capsized boat

Safe: Fisherman Ronald Bean, centre, is helped ashore at Hungry Bay in Paget after he was plucked from the sea by good Samaritans (Photograph supplied)

An elderly fisherman is lucky to be alive after he was rescued from his capsized boat, one of his rescuers said yesterday.

Colin Jones said he spotted lone fisherman Ronald Bean perched on the hull of his capsized boat beyond the reef line last Sunday morning and raised the alarm.

He raced to the scene in his boat with another fishermen, Berry Bridges, to rescue Mr Bean, who had earlier headed out from Devonshire Bay.

Mr Jones, of Hungry Bay, Paget, said: “Mr Bean is a lucky fellow. If I hadn’t seen him, it could have gone the other way. He was cold and shook up.”

He added: “I did it because it was an overturned boat and he needed help. I go fishing and I hope people would do the same for me.”

Mr Jones said he and Mr Bridges did not have the equipment to salvage the boat.

But he took its GPS co-ordinates to pass on to Bermuda Maritime Operations and the RBR Coastguard.

It was unknown yesterday if the boat had sunk or was still offshore.

Mr Jones said: “I’d assume it’s still out there. But it was about people, not property.”

He explained that his home had a vantage point over South Shore close to the mouth of Hungry Bay and that he kept an eye on passing boats.

Mr Jones said: “I saw his boat out there. But when I went back outside and looked, I didn’t see it.

“I thought it was strange. I started looking a bit harder and just saw this little flash of light out there.”

A scan of the area with binoculars revealed Mr Bean on the hull of the capsized boat in the open sea and swamped by waves.

Mr Jones said he called Mr Bridges and the two headed out in his boat.

He added: “It was just an unfortunate set of events. The rope went around the propeller, the stern went into the sea.”

Only the boat’s bow was above the surface when the two arrived and threw a rope to pull Mr Bean to safety.

“I said, ‘I hope you said a prayer’, and he said: `He has His eye on me all the time.’”

A grateful Mr Bean said yesterday he was fine but that he was unsure if his boat had gone under.

He added: “It was anchored. I don’t know if it’s sunk. It still had a bit of air in it.”

Hungry Bay residents brought Mr Bean towels and hot drinks after he was brought safely back to shore.

Mr Bean recovered from his ordeal at the Bridges’ home before he was driven home to Smith’s.

Sherry Bridges, Mr Bridges’ wife, said: “I’m sure he would have died if Colin had not seen him. He was in shock and he was very cold after being in the water.

“He kept saying he was all right but he’s really lucky.”

Mrs Bridges said she had called Mr Bean that night.

“He sounded much better and asked me to thank everybody for what they did.

“I said, ‘I hope you said a prayer’, and he said: `He has His eye on me all the time.’”

Mr Bridges added: “Colin called and said somebody was in trouble, so we headed out to get him.

“Colin had a workman at his house who told us where to look. We went out and found him.”

Mr Bridges said it was a cold day and the sea was choppy.

He added: “It was so quick. He was fishing, went to pull the anchor and the rope got caught on the propeller, so the back of the boat went into the sea.

“It was facing north east where the waves were coming from, and it was just swamped. It wasn’t calm. That was the main problem.”

He said Mr Jones was unable to spot the Step Aside when he headed back out to check on it later.

Bermuda Maritime Operations said Mr Bean’s 22ft vessel Step Aside was about 400 yards, or 366 metres, offshore when it got into trouble.

The agency added that the Royal Bermuda Regiment Coastguard was notified immediately and a call went out by radio for any boats in the area to assist.

But the incident report said that “approximately 15 minutes later the stricken sailor was recovered by a good Samaritan” and brought back to dry land uninjured.

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Published February 22, 2022 at 11:53 am (Updated February 22, 2022 at 11:53 am)

Hero rescuers pluck elderly man from capsized boat

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