WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Jay Rhodes of Slidell lived to tell about his experience in rough seas. Hypothermia was probably minutes away from setting in.
Rhodes said, "We were bringing two vessels from Slidell to Bay St. Louis and the larger motor vessel ran out of fuel and we were attempting to tow with a smaller sailing vessel. I fell overboard."
Rhodes says he fell between the motor vessel and the sailboard. "I swam out from underneath the boat. "Rhodes said. "I knew better than to come up between them. I work around boats a lot. I could have been seriously injured."
When Rhodes swam away, his girlfriend, Alisha McCollum threw him a life ring. After 45 minutes, she radioed the Coast Guard for help. At first, McCollum thought Rhodes had drowned.
McCollum said, "He was down so long since I had seen him and I didn't think he's make it, but they got there and searched and they found him."
Willie Davis and his partner with the Pass Christian Fire Department rescue boat responded to the SOS call. "That's what we do," said Davis. "We love our jobs and if I ever fell overboard, I would hope somebody would get there quick to get me out."
Rhodes said right before he was rescued, he began having cramps. "Started to have the on-set of shock and like I say these guys were there really quick and spotted me really quick, "said Rhodes.
He added, "The first mistake I made, I didn't have a life vest on, a personal flotation device."
The big lesson learned: whenever you got out in the high seas, always wear a life jacket.