Rough seas complicated rescue efforts in St. Augustine Inlet after a man fell off a 20-foot catamaran Wednesday afternoon, leaving a woman stranded on board the boat.
According to St. Johns County Fire Rescue, "Adrenaline PM" lost power for unknown reasons and Marco Bohar set anchor before calling for a tow. Then, while trying to fix the engine, Bohar fell overboard.
According to rescue swimmers, he was unable to get back to the boat because strong ocean currents kept pushing him farther from the vessel.
"Just trying to fix the lines," Bohar said. "I had problems getting on the boat."
Rescue swimmers say they pulled Bohar to safety while he was struggling in the water. A two-man Fire Rescue personal watercraft brought him back to the sailboat, where a 38-year-old woman was waiting.
"The problem was, he couldn't get back to the vessel because of the rough surf," said St. Johns Fire-Rescue spokesman Jeremy Robshaw. "The individual on the vessel wasn't able to control it."
The boat was then towed through the Intracoastal Waterway to safe harbor.
Bohar said he is an experienced swimmer, but rescuers say the power of the ocean currents are easy to underestimate.
"Anytime you have changing sandbars, heavy surf -- we have significant swell coming in -- there (are) rough conditions," Robshaw said.
According the National Weather Service, a moderate risk of rip currents is expected to continue through Thursday due to lingering, easterly swells.