Fort Myers, Florida (News-Press) -- The U.S. Coast Guard is saying a man who was ejected from his boat Tuesday night is alive because he was wearing a life jacket.
While the Coast Guard searched for Peter Whiting, he swam seven miles to shore and arrived at the Sanibel Inn shortly after 4 a.m. The Coast Guard began their search at around 10:30 p.m., USCG Petty Officer Crystalynn Kneen said.
"Because he had his jacket on, he lived," Kneen said.
Whiting, who lives on a private island near the Port Sanibel Marina, commandeered his Boston Whaler boat from his home at about 5:30 p.m., according to a Sanibel Police report. He told rescue workers he was ejected from his boat around 7:30 p.m. It wasn't until nine hours later that he made it to shore.
The boat came ashore at the east end of the island at the Lighthouse Beach
A National Weather Service meteorologist said Tuesday night's ocean temperature was about 87 degrees.
"Any time you're in the water for that long you can have issues with hypothermia, but when the water is that warm, it could take longer," Meteorologist Andrew McKaughan said.
Whiting did not respond to calls Tuesday afternoon and no one answered the door at his home on Marine Cove Lane.
Boaters at the Port Sanibel Marina said Whiting is lucky to be alive.
"He is a cool cat," said Kasey Szegeski who used to work at the marina and would help Whiting fuel his boat up from time to time.
If it happened to Whiting it could happen to anyone, Szegeski said.
"Lots of crazy things can happen on the water," Szegeski said.
Bill Hammond, owner of Endless Summer Charters, said the most important thing to do when on the water is to submit a float plan and make people aware of where the boat is headed.
Boaters should also wear a kill switch wire because in case of ejection it disables the boat, he said.
"I think he was extremely lucky," Hammond said. "It's just short of a miracle."