Missing boater who prompted NJ coast search is found
A boater who the Coast Guard and State Police had searched for all night was found safe and sound on Tuesday morning after a harrowing night.
Christian Johnathon Hosford Jr., 33, was reported missing by a friend when he did not return from a sail when expected around 6:30 p.m. Monday. Friends notified the Coast Guard around 9:30 p.m. The friend had been concerned because Hosford did not have a life jacket, whistle or any other safety gear on board his boat.
A search was launched a mile off Cape May Villas that included three Coast Guard vessels and the State Police helicopter.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Johnathan Lally told New Jersey 101.5 that the State Police marine unit found Hosford around 8 a.m. Tuesday on his boat off Dennis Creek about a mile north of the search area.
Hosford said that when he was found, he was waving his shirt hoping that Coast Guard boats and a State Police helicopter would notice him.
Hosford said he did not just fall asleep.
He said that he had gone out Monday night for a short ride on his 12-foot boat but hit a swell that tipped over the boat. After struggling to turn the boat right side up and using his hands to bail water out, he wound up floating all night.
The swells grew larger at night and rocked the boat.
“It was nerve-wracking the whole night. I may have slept a total of 30 seconds because I was so tired my eyes shut while I was sitting up,” Hosford said.
At dawn, Hosford had renewed hope that he would be rescued when he saw a Coast Guard ship but it was too far away for him to be noticed even when their searchlight hit him. The State Police helicopter also did not notice Hosford as the boat had no reflectors and he had no flares.
“I tried to paddle to land for an hour and was getting nowhere. So I stand up on the boat, I take my shirt off and I just start fanning it in the air for about 10 minutes. And that’s when the Coast Guard came,” Hosford said.
“I’m an idiot for not bringing any safety gear. I was cursing myself out like ‘what the hell am I doing? I’m stupid. Why did I do this? I should have brought flares. ’”
State Police Sgt. Alejandro Goez said that Hosford was taken to the State Police Marine Services Bureau Bi-Valve Station where he was treated by medical personnel. He was determined to not have suffered any life-threatening injuries.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story should not have said that the boater was asleep when he was found.