CREATED Dec. 29, 2011 - UPDATED: Dec. 29, 2011
FORT MYERS BEACH - Two Tampa Bay area commerical fishermen are counting their lucky stars after getting resuced more than a 100 miles off the coast of Southwest Florida.
Their boat went down in 450 feet of water on a dark and unusually cold night as a cold front pushed through on Tuesday.
They say their 33 foot boat named "Lucky Dog" began taking on water as they struggled to get up the anchor in rough seas.
"I tried to use a 5 gallon bucket to scoop the water out of it, but it just wasn't happening," said first mate Travis Neimi.
"I told Curly (Captain Curly Egan) it was time to go he didn't want to let the boat go."
Egan has been a commericial fisherman for 40 years and survived a previous sinking 20 years ago.
"When you do this for so long you know that every time you leave the dock you might not ever see the land again," he said.
"So it's just something you gotta live with if you're gonna do this kind of work," he added.
The captain said he's grateful their life raft was in tact when they abandoned ship.
"If we didn't have it, we would have been floating in life jackets - feeling critters nipping at our toes," he said.
"I didn't want to get ate by sharks!"
As they scrambled into their life raft, they activated their emergency position-indicating radio beacon better known as an "E-PIRB."
"That epirb saved our butt," said Neimi.
A coast guard helicopter picked up the distress signal.
"As soon as the (helicopter) was within a 40 nautical mile range, (our chopper crew) knew exactly where they were which saved us a great deal of time," said a Lt. Micahel Mastrianni with the Coast Guard.
"We were able to go straight there instead of doing a search pattern," he said.
But a passing freighter got to the fishermen first.
The Coast Guard picked up the fisherman from the freighter.
The cutter "Marlin" brought them into the Coast Guard station in Fort Myers Beach.
As for the "Lucky Dog," the crew says it's now for scuba divers to enjoy.
"It's gone, it's an artificial reef now," said Captain Egan who added the boat's name, "Lucky Dog," just doesn't make sense anymore.
"The damn thing tried to kill me!" he said.
"It ain't lucky!"