The seaman, who was missing two days at sea before being rescued and holding on to the bow of his boat, has spoken for the first time about his ordeal.
Stuart Bee, 62, told the Coast Guard he thought "this is it" after being found 86 miles off the coast off Port Canaveral on Florida's east coast Sunday morning.
His boat had had mechanical problems before it sank, but Bee had been sleeping when "water gushed in his back, forcing him forward".
The crew of a passing 225-foot container ship named Angeles spotted him at the bow of his 32-foot recreational boat Stingray, which had capsized. The crew rescued him from the water and brought him back to the coast.
Bee, who is now safely returning to shore with the crew who found him, added, “I was working on the engines, there were noises squeaking and some parts on them.
"I have not seen anyone. I thought "that's it". And then I saw a container ship in the distance and I don't have my glasses. I couldn't see if it came to me or not. & # 39;
Bee is now making his way back to land with the crew who found him
Stuart Bee, 62, boarded the Angeles container ship after being found 86 miles from shore. He can be seen holding on to the bow of his sunken boat in the middle of the Atlantic
The seaman, who left at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon, described taking off his shirt and waving to his lifeboat before being rescued at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning.
He said he tried to get equipment to set off a distress signal on his boat, but it sank with the ship. He added, "Three times I tried to hold my breath and swim down and get it, but I couldn't get it."
Bee says he was reluctant to keep moving for fear of losing an air pocket in the cabin that kept the boat afloat.
Stuart Bee was rescued 86 miles east of Port Canaveral, Florida
Bee, pictured after he was rescued, said he tried to reach equipment to set off a distress signal on his boat but it sank with the ship. He added, "Three times I tried to hold my breath and swim down and get it, but I couldn't & # 39; not get it & # 39;
Lacruiser P. Relativo, a merchant marine, right aboard the Angeles container ship, took a photo with Bee and gave him fresh clothes to wear
Bee has now become something of a hero aboard the container ship after spending the past few days with the crew
His family sounded the alarm when he did not return from his trip and said it was unusual for him to stay on the water overnight.
On Tuesday, his niece Leisa Bee said, "The first thing he said was," You will never guess what happened to me. "I am in disbelief, I can't believe they found him. & # 39;
The Coast Guard had been conducting patrols and even dispatched a Hercules C-130 plane to join the search.
Bee had somehow managed to hold onto the bow of his boat for almost two days
Bee receives a helping hand as soon as she climbs the steps of his rescue ship
A container ship, the Angeles pictured, came across Bee during its voyage
Lacruiser P. Relativo, a merchant marine aboard the Angeles, took a picture with Bee and gave him fresh clothes to wear.
"I decide to offer him my 'lucky shirt'. I could give him a new one, but this one is my favorite. I wish him the same comfort that this shirt gave me during those exhausting interviews. Just like him, I was lucky to get the job. He was also lucky that our course was crossed near the Atlantic, ”he wrote on Facebook.
Relativo explained: “I was woken up by an urgent phone call that we had to rescue someone. As merchant ships, we have been trained in the toughest level of distress possible at sea.
& # 39; However, the actual scene is often different. After careful maneuvers, we successfully rescued Mr. Stuart. Before I could start asking, he first asked me, "What day is it today?", "November 29th!" I answered.
& # 39; Through the look on his face, I saw his tearful eyes as he made the sign of the cross. Drifting on the open sea for days, he maintained his stance on the tip of his capsized boat so as not to make a single move as this could cause his yacht to sink completely. & # 39;
The Coast Guard conducted patrols and even sent a Hercules C-130 plane to look for him [pictured]
A Clearwater Coast Guard C-130 Hercules crew had joined the search and rescue effort after Bee failed to return home.
Another phone call was made to all of the seafarers in the area to look for Bee's ship and the man himself.
“Saving lives at sea is our highest calling. This is a truly incredible result that shows the bond between all seafarers and our community, ”said Captain Mark Vlaun, Commandant of the Jacksonville Sector.
"Thank you to our mission partners who have taken action and to everyone who has spoken out to find and save Mr. Bee."
Bee's boat, the Stingray, got into trouble in the open water and then capsized
Bee set off for the open water off Florida on Friday in his 32-foot boat. Pictured here in better times