South Jersey boater shares story of survival after being lost at sea

"We were sailing along great for like three days. We were moving. Then that first storm hit," recalled Joe Ditomasso.

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Sunday, December 18, 2022
South Jersey boater shares story of survival after being lost at sea
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"We were sailing along great for like three days. We were moving. Then that first storm hit," recalled Joe Ditomasso.

CAPE MAY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A South Jersey boater is sharing his story of survival after he spent 10 days lost at sea with another sailor and dog.

Kevin Hyde, 65, Joe Ditomasso, 76, and their dog named "Minnie" returned to land safely this week.

They departed Cape May, New Jersey on November 27 en route to Florida on a 30-foot sailboat. They lost communication on December 3 in North Carolina.

Ten days later they found themselves way off course. There were times they thought they were going to die.

"I said, 'Lord, all I want to see is my new granddaughter. She's only 18 months old.' And he listened to me," recalled Joe Ditomasso while sitting with Minnie, a Bichon poodle mix.

SEE ALSO: Rescued New Jersey boaters recall being lost at sea: 'It sounded like the devil was out there'

"We were sailing along great for like three days. We were moving. Then that first storm hit. When that hit, that's when the problems start. The sail broke first, then the steering broke. Then after that, we just battled the sea," added Joe Ditomasso.

That set them on a downhill spiral for days, off course, no navigation, no mast, no power, no food and no water.

They survived by portioning beans and honey, and sleeping while being surrounded by waves that Joe Ditomasso describes as mountains.

His daughter Natalie was one of the many people waiting anxiously.

"It's nothing short of a miracle he's with us today; he'll be with us for many more years to come," she said.

The boaters were found 214 miles east of Delaware on December 14 after they were spotted by a tanker.

"It was an experience I'll never ever forget," said Joe Ditomasso.

After this trip, Joe Ditomasso says he isn't giving up on his love of boats, but no more sailboats for him.

He also said he's interested in writing a book or seeing a movie about his experience.