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Stranded boater rescued by Coast Guard helicopter in Great South Bay, police say

A Brookhaven man who went out on his boat without a radio or cellphone was rescued from the Great South Bay early Thursday after his vessel went aground, Suffolk County police said.

Derek Schleede, 53, was missing for nearly 12 hours after boarding his 23-foot center console at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday to go duck hunting, police said.

He was spotted at about 2:10 a.m. Thursday by officers in a police helicopter after a family member went to Squassux Landing Marina on Beaver Dam Road in Brookhaven where he discovered Schleede's vehicle in the parking lot and his boat missing, police said.

The family member called 911 at about 11:20 p.m. Wednesday to report Schleede missing.

Schleede was not in distress when he was found and was lifted by basket from his boat in the Old Inlet off Bellport aboard a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, police said.

The Coast Guard said Schleede's vessel became disabled and ran aground in 3 inches of water and that he had a generator onboard to keep himself warm.

Low tide prevented rescue boats from reaching the victim, police said, and Schleede had planned to wait for the tide to rise to float to the rescue vessels.

But after 20 minutes of waiting and still about 400 yards from the rescue vessels, Schleede decided to be hoisted to safety, according to a Coast Guard release.

Schleede was evaluated by medical personnel in the parking lot at Smith Point County Park in Shirley; he did not require further treatment.

Lt. Matthew R. Vanderslice, pilot of the Coast Guard helicopter that lifted Schleede from his vessel, said the rescue "demonstrates how crucial it is to be prepared while boating" in winter.

"It's tempting to leave the pier with just enough gear for a short trip, but if your engine fails, you need to be ready to spend hours in cold, windy conditions," Vanderslice said.

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