- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 5, 2002

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) A Florida man who says he was lost at sea for more than two months was rescued 40 miles off the coast.

The Coast Guard reached Terry Watson, 43, on Thursday. Emaciated and weak, Mr. Watson was suffering from dehydration, delusion and shock, officials said.

"I died a month ago," Mr. Watson told the Post and Courier of Charleston, after he was assisted off a Coast Guard rescue boat.

Mr. Watson and his 23-foot sailboat called the Psedorca were found 42 miles southeast of Little River Inlet, near the North Carolina-South Carolina line, the Coast Guard said.

Mr. Watson, who lives in the central Florida town of Homosassa Springs, was last spotted in Miami on July 19, authorities said. The captain of another boat said he was traveling with Mr. Watson around the Florida Keys and reported the boat missing July 23.

A search of more than 8,000 square miles turned up nothing.

His rescue came less than three weeks after another man was found adrift in the Pacific. He said he survived three months by roasting seabirds and turtle meat. Richard Van Pham, 62, had left Long Beach, Calif., bound for an island about 25 miles offshore, but a storm wrecked his mast, motor and radio. He was found Sept. 17 off Costa Rica, 2,500 miles from his original destination.

Officials weren't sure how Watson survived. He apparently used his broken mast to rig a shelter, but Coast Guard crewmen said they had not been able to talk with Mr. Watson long enough to determine how long he was without food and water.

A charter fishing boat captain found Mr. Watson and his ship and radioed the Coast Guard for help, authorities said.

A helicopter dropped a rescue swimmer near the boat, but Mr. Watson refused to leave his vessel.

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