Fishermen survived on beer and crackers

Aug. 31, 2009 at 12:37 PM
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BLESSING, Texas, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Three fishermen say country-boy survival skills got them through eight days atop a capsized boat off the coast of Texas.

The three were rescued late Saturday by a passing pleasure boat nearly 180 miles southwest of Matagorda, Texas.

"It's nothing short of a miracle of God," said James Phillips, 30, owner of Born Again Repair, a boat sales and repair facility in Blessing, Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Phillips and two friends, Curt Hall, 28, and Tressell Hawkins, 42, left Matagorda Aug. 21 aboard Phillips' 23-foot catamaran. About 80 miles offshore, the boat took on water and rolled, cutting all radio contact.

"Then us country boys went into survival mode," Phillips told the Chronicle in an interview Sunday.

The men dove under the boat to recover a case of beer, crackers and potato chips. A hose connected to a tank gave them fresh water, though it tasted like gasoline, and a tarp shielded them from the sun. Sharks circled the boat as the men hallucinated about people bringing food and water.

Phillips said he never will sail again without carrying an electronic positioning radio beacon, which could have pointed rescuers to his location.

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