A Carolina Skiff’s Story of Survival & Resilience

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On the weekend of July 22, 2023, Carolina Skiff owner Carl Davis and his buddy Tyler set off for Christmas Creek Marina near Jekyll Island off the coast of Georgia, expecting a day of fishing and fun.


Little did they know it would be a weekend of survival and resilience. Carl, attributing his survival to his wife’s quick thinking and the superior foam flotation capabilities of his Carolina Skiff, sharing his harrowing tale with the media and the Carolina Skiff team.

The Incident:

Their fishing excursion began early in the morning, around 6:30-7 AM., but they weren’t catching much. Despite an incoming storm, they continued fishing until about 2:30 PM. As they were leaving Christmas Creek, Carl sent a text to his wife, which turned out to be the last communication he made before the incident.

Venturing into the sound, they hadn’t gone far when a wave capsized their skiff. Carl’s companion, who couldn’t swim, moved toward the back of the boat to grab a life vest, causing the boat to flip due to the shift in weight.

Survival and Resilience:

In spite of it being the worst shark-infested part of the East Coast, Carl managed to stay afloat thanks to his J14 Carolina Skiff. The Skiff’s foam floatation system, which exceeds Coast Guard requirements, ensured that it remained buoyant in the face of extreme weather conditions.

Carl spent most of the time in the water or laying on the front of the overturned boat while his friend clung to the hull of the overturned boat. (Tyler has diabetes, so Carl said he tried to spare Tyler the brunt of the conditions.)

To conserve energy, Carl tied himself to the boat motor with a rope, allowing him to rest his head against the boat. In light of the dire situation, the two tried to stay proactive and positive. Carl knew his wife was coordinating the rescue operation from home, which gave him hope. He found out later that she had been in contact with the rescue team every two hours.

They initially thought they would be found quickly, but as high tide came in, they were carried further out to sea. The situation worsened as darkness fell, and they drifted four miles offshore.

Understanding the Incident:

Carl explained that, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), a severe storm had passed through the area for 45 minutes to an hour around the time their boat capsized. This information prompted the start of the search operation that evening. 

When the storm caused the boat to flip over, Carl and Tyler lost all their belongings. Without any means of communication, they could only hope and wait.

The Rescue Operation:

Around midnight, Carl noticed helicopters flying in and out of the creek. He believed it was his wife who had alerted the authorities and set the rescue operation into motion. However, the rescue team faced challenges locating them in the vastness of the sea.

As the hours turned into a freezing night, they found themselves struggling for survival, praying and hoping to be rescued. By dawn, they had been adrift for about 17 hours. Finally, they noticed a helicopter hovering nearby and started waving frantically. Carl recalls the moment with deep emotion, describing the relief they felt when the helicopter pointed toward them and started circling above.

Once they were rescued, Carl and Tyler were informed that they had been searched for since early evening the previous day. The rescuers hadn’t anticipated that they would drift so far out to sea. In the ocean, their small 14-foot boat was like finding a needle in a haystack.

Carl credits his survival to his wife and J14 Carolina Skiff, which continued to float despite being capsized. He had researched this feature when he purchased the boat, “knowing that even if it was cut into pieces, it would still float.”


Links to link out to in blog:

News article referenced on Carl’s FB page

Coast Guard Press Release