John Aldridge, an offshore lobsterman from Montauk, N.Y., who last summer survived 12 harrowing hours in the Atlantic Ocean after falling overboard, shared his remarkable story in the keynote address at Pacific Marine Expo.
Aldridge has called the Atlantic Ocean his office for 20 years, as he became a successful fisherman. In the wee hours of a July morning in 2013, while the 45-foot Anna Mary’s other two crew members slept, Aldridge was trying to move two heavy ice chests on deck. He snagged a box hook onto the bottom cooler’s plastic handle, but as he tried to pull the coolers, the handle broke. Aldridge went flying backward and off the open stern ramp.
Suddenly he found himself alone in the water 40 miles from shore; no one aboard the boat knew he was missing. Thus began his battle to survive, during which he willed himself to stay afloat for some 12 hours while the Coast Guard and Montauk-area fishermen embarked on a massive search effort to find him.
During his presentation, Aldridge will discuss three important factors that he believes helped him remain alive: the survival instinct, the will to live, and the ability to think outside the box.