Angler and Rescuers Reunite After One-In-A-Million Offshore Epic

The quick thinking and extraordinary luck that brought a North Carolina fisherman back from the brink.

Andrew Sherman and his son Jack were fishing 37 miles off the North Carolina coast when they spotted a boat coming straight at them. Andrew directed a few choice words toward the 23-foot Parker cuddy cabin rumbling along on a collision course with music blaring and trolling a full spread, then nudged his boat into gear to get out of the way. As the Parker passed just 10 yards astern, the Shermans could see no one at the helm.

The boat’s owner, Sascha Scheller, had fallen overboard, but in the moment the possibility didn’t even occur to them. “We thought somebody was down in the cabin or taking a nap, just being super irresponsible,” Andrew said on the Qualified Captain Podcast, the first time the three sat together for an interview about the remarkable day Sascha was rescued by his own boat.

The fishing had been slow that morning, so Scheller decided to run about 40 miles offshore to a spot known as Nashville Tanker. Along the way he went to the rail to answer nature’s call – and slipped. Instantly he was in the water, watching his boat motor away without him. His life jacket, with a whistle, strobe and handheld VHF radio attached, was in the cabin.

Sascha kicked off his boots and started to swim. He knew his only chance was to stay calm and conserve his energy. With luck, there would be boats at Nashville Tanker, about three miles south. Sascha figured his only chance was to get there before they turned for home that afternoon. But fate had other plans.

Sascha’s boat chugged along for another few miles, trolling a full spread. Then, Sascha believes, something big hit a bait hard enough to pull a rod from its holder and turn the Parker a few degrees to starboard – on to a new course that would take it straight to Andrew and Jack Sherman’s 21-foot Sea Hunt.

Sascha Scheller with fish
Sascha Scheller often caught more fish, but never had better luck than the day he was rescued by his own boat 40 miles offshore. Courtesy Sascha Scheller

About half an hour later the father and son watched incredulously as Sascha’s boat nearly ran them down. Seeing no one on board, they decided to give chase, blasting their air horn while scanning for any sign of life aboard. After a few minutes passed with no response, they decided to board the ghost boat. Their plan was simple: Andrew would pull up as close as he could, and Jack would leap across. Jack was a cadet at the U.S. Naval Academy, an athletic 21-year-old trained to handle emergencies at sea. Andrew knew all that, but Jack was also his son.

“I said, ‘When you jump on, I want three points of contact,’ you know, all that kind of stuff,” Andrew recalled on the podcast. “And then I said to him, ‘Are you cool with what you may find on board?’ They didn’t discuss it at the time, but both men thought Jack was likely to find a body onboard, perhaps a heart-attack victim or, worse, a suicide.

“It just kind of went like radio silent, so we said we’re going to go find him.”

– Andrew Sherman

Once on board, Jack nervously ran to the cabin. “When I didn’t find anyone it all clicked in my head,” Jack said. “Someone fell off.”

At first, Andrew couldn’t believe it. “I was like, no, there’s somebody on the boat. Please check again. And he looks at me on the deck and says, ‘Dad, it’s a 23-foot boat. There’s no one here.’”

Andrew then hailed the Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16, reporting the ghost boat and their coordinates. The watch stander took down the information, then asked the question that would ultimately save Sascha’s life: “Vessel hailing, request to know if there’s a GPS on board the vessel with a track history.”

There was, and for the next 20 minutes or so, Jack and Andrew read back every single waypoint, creating a map of all the places Sascha’s boat had been that day. And then, Andrew says, “it just kind of went like radio silent, which was really weird. So we just said we’re going to go find him.”

The Coast Guard already had scrambled a massive search operation, including response boats, helicopters and a cutter. But the closest vessels were the Shermans’ Sea Hunt and Sascha’s own Parker, with Andrew now at the helm. The father and son quickly determined a course of action. Jack would search in circles from Sascha’s last waypoint while Andrew would use the chart plotter on Sascha’s boat to backtrack along his route.

Searching in circles from Sascha’s last waypoint, Jack found a pair of Xtratuf deck boots floating in the water, not five yards apart.

Somewhere along that track, Sascha Schiller was breast-stroking steadily toward Nashville Tanker. He knew his wife would alert the Coast Guard when he didn’t return by about 4:30 that afternoon, but that was hours away and it seemed unlikely rescuers would find him before nightfall, if they ever did. Refusing to give up, he kept swimming.

Jack, searching in circles from Sascha’s last waypoint, found a pair of Xtratuf deck boots floating in the water, not five yards apart. That was the moment Jack and his father knew for certain they were searching for a live swimmer, not a body.

Andrew stopped his boat and took a moment to assess the conditions. The day was almost eerily calm, the horizon empty, no sound other than the purring of the Parker’s engines. His only frame of reference was the GPS track and, now, the position of the boots. Noting that the current was setting south, he began a zigzag pattern covering the course line and points south.

Andrew, Sascha and Jack
Andrew, Sascha and Jack after the rescue. Courtesy the Sherman Family

Sascha spotted him on his first pass, but Andrew didn’t see Sascha until the third. “I saw this boat just charging, probably about a mile away, and all of a sudden just power down and then it took off and went the other way,” Sascha recalled. About five minutes later the boat reappeared, and again zagged away. The third time, Sascha kicked and splashed with all his energy. It worked.

Andrew spotted the movement and whipped the cuddy cabin toward Sascha, calling out on the radio, “Coast Guard, I have found him! I have found him!”

As he drew closer, Sascha saw to his disbelief that the boat coming to his rescue was his own. To this day, he marvels at his luck. The odds of his boat nearly ramming Andrew and Jack’s Sea Hunt were astronomical, but thanks to their quick thinking Sascha made it safely home to his wife and daughters. 

Coast Guard honoring the Shermans
The Coast Guard honored the Shermans after the rescue. Courtesy the Sherman Family

The three men have since become friends, bonding over Sascha’s incredible rescue and their shared love of fishing. In fact, Andrew and Jack joined him on one of his first trips offshore after the accident. Sascha doesn’t fish alone anymore and always keeps his life jacket on. He’s also become a strong proponent of wireless engine cut-off switches and personal locator beacons (PLBs) – and of course a good chart plotter. 

As Andrew said on the podcast, “If you go offshore, run a track.” 

“Yes, and clear all your old ones,” added Sascha.

Watch the full story on The Qualified Captain Podcast using this link:

The U.S. Coast Guard is asking all boat owners and operators to help reduce fatalities, injuries, property damage, and associated healthcare costs related to recreational boating accidents by taking personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers. Essential steps include: wearing a life jacket at all times and requiring passengers to do the same; never boating under the influence (BUI); successfully completing a boating safety course; and getting a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) annually from local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadrons®, or your state boating agency’s Vessel Examiners. The U.S. Coast Guard reminds all boaters to “Boat Responsibly!” For more tips on boating safety, visit