(ran PW, PS editions of Pasco Times)
For about three hours, the three Tampa high school students took turns using two life vests to stay afloat before being rescued.
Three Tampa boys lost their camping gear and small powerboat in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday afternoon, but they were able to return to shore unhurt after being rescued by other boaters.
The rescue occurred between the mainland and Anclote Key.
"It was very choppy," said Matthew Binnie, one of the three 17-year-old Gaither High School students. "We hit a big wave. We went up, came down and took a lot of water in."
The boat, which Binnie said was less than 10 feet in length, soon swamped, leaving the boys floating in the gulf amid the camping gear they had been carrying on board.
"I was worried," Binnie said. "While we were out there, maybe after 30 minutes, something stung me on my chest and arms. We brought three life vests, but one floated away."
Binnie, who said Monday night that redness from the stings had disappeared, said he and friends Daniel Kirby and Kevin Wilder had planned to camp on Anclote Key. They departed the mainland at Anclote River Park in southern Pasco County about 11:30 a.m.
For about three hours after their boat was swamped, the three took turns using the two life vests they had salvaged. Finally, a larger boat happened by and fished the boys out of the water. Binnie did not know the names of the men who rescued them.
The boat the boys took into the gulf Monday belongs to Wilder's father. It remains partially submerged in the gulf.
But after their rescue, the boys noticed their cooler floating on the water and retrieved it.
"Since we had been swimming for so long, we were really hungry, so we tore into that," Binnie said.