Sea of Cortez Fishermen: How We Survived

Survivors spent 16 hours adrift before making it to land
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2011 9:55 AM CDT
Pius 'Pete" Zuger is hugged by friend Brian McCoy outside his home in Novato, Calif., Friday, July 8, 2011. Zuger, 73, is one of 19 tourists to have survived the sinking of a fishing boat.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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(Newser) – "I can't believe I'm going to die a day after retiring," thought Gary Wong, one of the survivors of last week's Sea of Cortez sinking, as the 105-foot fishing boat went down. Wong and the other survivors recounted their harrowing ordeal to the AP, telling how they escaped the doomed vessel and drifted for up to 16 hours on a safety ring and raft before making it to a remote beach. Thirty-five fishermen and crew survived the sinking, but seven men remain missing.

The 73-year-old Pius "Pete" Zuger, a former Swiss merchant marine, was awakened at 2:30am by his cabin mate screaming "The boat is sinking, get out!" Zuger put on his bathing suit—"I had no doubt there was going to be swimming involved," he said—and jumped into the sea, where he floated on an ice chest before being picked up by a 20-foot panga fishing boat that escaped the main boat's sinking. About 10 hours later, he came across Wong and other survivors, and using cooler lids as paddles, the panga made it to shore several hours later.

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