Florida man rescued from sinking sailboat as he attempted to ride out Hurricane Nicole

Robert Shufelt was caught in the middle of the Indian River, trapped on a sinking sailboat during Hurricane Nicole, after choosing to ride out the storm on a boat that he has called home for the past 14 years.

"Three anchors down, and they broke loose, that is how powerful she was," said Shufelt.

He added, "This ain’t my first hurricane, but this one took me down."

WOFL Sailboat rescue Nicole1

Spotted initially by Cocoa Police, chief aviation pilot John Coppola and his partner Mike Ryle from the Brevard County Sheriff's Office swooped into action to save him, after hearing calls for distress over the radio.

"People sometimes make mistakes, and they don’t think something is going to be as bad and then next thing you know, they get themselves in trouble," Coppola said.


They say while they are normally flying overhead, they took the water to rescue him as he was clinging to the boat, drowning. Battling strong winds, waves, and rain to get to him. It took them almost half an hour to get to shore.

"He was extremely happy to be off that boat. He told us that as soon as he got off the raft, he said, I don't want to go back on that boat ever again."