Former College Football Player Rescued by Coast Guard After Being Stranded at Sea in Kayak for 12 Hours

“The wind was over 30 miles per hour and there was a current that is also pulling out so it was really a battle against Mother Nature. I was not going to win that one,” Chris Smelley tells Inside Edition.

A kayaker was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard after being stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for nearly 12 hours without a phone or life jacket.

Chris Smelley was finishing in a kayak in Grayton Beach, Florida, when the weather seemed fine, but conditions quickly changed.

“The wind was over 30 miles an hour and there was a current that was also pulling out so really the battle against Mother Nature, I was not going to win that one,” Smelley tells Inside Edition.

The former University South Carolina quarterback is an experienced athlete, but admits he was not prepared for his emergency at sea.

“I didn’t have a cell phone, I didn’t have a watch, and this time I didn’t even have a life jacket, which was not a smart move,” Smelley says.

His wife began to worry about his whereabouts and contacted authorities, who launched an hours-long search for him.

“It was probably 20 minutes before dark or so and the wind had started to calm down,” Smelley says.

After nearly 12 hours at sea, the Coast Guard spotted Smelley.

U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Graham McGinnis spoke to Inside Edition.

“As we’re making the turn home, just a little flash went across my screen and I was able to quickly zoom in and recognize that this was exactly what we were looking for,” McGinnis says.

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