Florida Keys boaters know this drill.
They're out on the water for fish, sun or sandbar-partying, and the wind blows something off the boat. Maybe it's a seat cushion, a cardboard beer box or a plastic float. Often, a volunteer dives in to retrieve it before it drifts off into the fragile ecosystem.
Lawrence Boyts, 68, of Cudjoe Key, was going for a pool noodle that sailed off his boat into the water on Friday, Aug. 12, while he and his wife Donna were anchored at Sawyer Key in the Lower Keys.
But Boyts got into trouble while swimming. His wife lost sight of him and called 911. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded at about 4:40 p.m.
"He gave it some chase," FWC spokesman Jason Rafter said Monday. "He was swimming with the wind and the current at that point."
FWC Officers Austin Cobb and Lt. Brian Sapp were directed to Boyts, and he was pulled from the water at 5:21 p.m., Rafter said.
Boyts was exhausted and ailing from saltwater intake, but otherwise in good shape and spirits, the agency reported. He was taken back to the boat.
Donna Boyts said the officers are "heroes in our hearts."