In a highly publicized story, two Bahamian men were rescued near Riviera Beach, Fla., on Sept. 14.
At the time, no one would have guessed that one of the men was from Abaco.
According to Anthony “Bubba” Douglas’ family, he had gone missing since Sept. 10. Details are that Douglas and his friend Mike Russell went out on a one-day fishing trip when a storm passed through and capsized their boat.
They were stranded at sea with no food or water – save for seaweed and saltwater – as they clung hopelessly to the fiberglass hull of their 16-foot boat.
“It was just like we were floating on nothing; just like it was air. You know just like God kept us up on the water,” Douglas recounted. “Weather came and sunk the boat, and we couldn’t get it back up. We had to be on top straight through.”
Throughout the night, he and Russell spoke to each other to keep each other awake, or they would take turns keeping watch while the other took a few minutes of rest. Douglas said the naps were short-lived because as water splashed on them, they would awake.
“He said, ‘Your time Bubba,’ and I said yeah let me catch one, and I do like this,” he said, leaning his head to the side, “and water splashed, and I said your time.
“Then he tell me he finished, and he said he was gone. He said: ‘Bubba, don’t catch me, I gone.’ So I said, you can’t go leave me out here; me and you come out here together.”
Strength waning, Douglas said all he had strength to do was grab Russell by the pants when he fell over the last time as he continued to cling to the boat.
Luckily, the occupants of a passing freighter discovered the two men, who were then rescued by the Coast Guard and taken to Delray Beach Medical Center. They received medical treatment for three days because they were severely dehydrated – their eyes already taking on a sunken appearance.
Upon their release from the hospital, Douglas returned home on Sept. 19. He was quickly surrounded by family and friends at the Marsh Harbour International Airport as they exchanged hugs and kisses, and an onslaught of balloons, flowers and a welcome home banner greeted him.
Tears flowed from his eyes as he reflected on how close he had come to dying at sea.
“I thank God I’m here; that’s the only person who has me here,” Douglas expressed. “I have to thank Him first with everything [because] I don’t know how I made it out there.”
Despite the aches and pains in his body, he said that he felt a whole lot stronger.
“What I been in – I feel good,” Douglas exclaimed. “I thank God for the miracle of life, and for giving me a second chance to live.”
He acknowledged that it was prayer that kept them. Indeed, the Facebook pages of his family were filled with thanks and praise to God for protecting Douglas and Russell while they were out at sea.
As a younger man, Bahamians may remember Anthony “Bubba” Douglas as one of softball’s legendary athletes, who travelled to the Olympics in Munich, Germany in 1972 and survived the bombing at the games. He was one of few players, who could hit a homerun batting left or right handed.