Stranded 84-year-old boater rescued off Chokoloskee coast

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CHOKOLOSKEE, Fla. An 84-year-old fisherman went through quite an ordeal to come back with a trout and a red snapper.

John Paul Hensal’s 18-foot-boat got stuck on a sandbar Saturday more than a mile off the Chokoloskee Island Park and Marina, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said.

“I tried, tried, tried to get off,” Hensal said. “I just waited until the tide came back.”

Hensal, who has been fishing for 60 years, had his phone with him but was unable to get a signal to call or text for help, according to deputies. His family called the sheriff’s office after he didn’t return at his regular 5 p.m. docking time for dinner.

A sheriff’s office helicopter found him and, once the tide was in, spent nearly an hour guiding him back to shore, according to deputies. He finally made it back to the marina at 2 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also took part in the search.

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