Man grateful prayers were answered in ocean rescue

Anthony Gregory of Clifton inspects some of his deep-sea fishing gear at his home after recently being rescued when his charter boat capsized off the coast of Costa Rica.

A hairy situation during a fishing expedition in Costa Rica earlier this month may have changed the course of Anthony Gregory’s life.

The 52-year-old Clifton resident said he feels more grateful and full of life after spending about four hours clinging to a capsized boat in the Pacific Ocean at least three miles from shore.

“I’ve never been so scared to death in my whole life,” Gregory said, the skin still peeling on his arms from sun exposure during his 20-day vacation near the equator. “I’ve never been a religious person, but I got an appointment in church on Sunday because I promised I would.”

On Nov. 11, Gregory was weeks into his “trip of a lifetime,” catching, eating and sharing fresh fish to his heart’s content. On that day, he chartered a boat captained by two local Costa Rican men to take him fishing. Gregory said he felt a little nervous when the men decided to stop the boat and fish in an area where breaking waves could be seen out to sea. Gregory said he was told not to worry about it, but soon after, events started to take a turn for the worse. A tall wave rolled through, picking up the boat like a surfboard and tipping it, the men and all of its contents into the sea.

Gregory lost his two fishing poles, a Nikon camera and a wallet with $500, all items probably still resting 300 feet underwater. While the loss of about $2,600 in goods was unfortunate, Gregory said he just feels thankful to be alive.

“I’m totally lucky,” he said.

Though nearly submerged, a tip of the overturned boat remained above water, and the men gripped onto it. After about four hours as the sun was sinking in the sky, the trio was rescued by another boat chartered by Costa Rican locals and carrying a couple from South Carolina, Gregory said.

After getting to shore, Gregory said he shook with fear or possibly shock for hours later, even after downing two shots of alcohol and a beer.

The Costa Rican captains came to his hotel room and “apologized 1,000 times,” in part because they didn’t have insurance to recoup the costs of his submerged gear, Gregory said.

In an effort to get past the anxiety that he felt while floating in the ocean with waves breaking over his head, Gregory made it a point to charter another fishing expedition in Costa Rica before leaving the country Nov. 16.

He also wants to make good on the promises he made to God while clinging to the boat and praying.

He said Friday he planned to make it to church services Sunday at Elm Avenue Baptist Church.

“I am so grateful,” he said. “I just don’t know what to do with it. I just thought, ‘Why?’ Was he waking me up, or was he just giving me a heart check?”

Gregory fished in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico about two years ago, but that and his latest Costa Rica adventure have been the extent of his travels to fish in the ocean.

Gregory normally fishes closer to home, his favorite spot at Blue Mesa Reservoir, near Gunnison. That’s where he snagged a record-breaking, 41.7-pound lake trout, which he guessed was 50 years old. He released the fish back into the water.

Gregory said he will spend Thanksgiving fishing at Lake Powell, adding, “Turkey sandwiches are cool.”

“My prayers got answered,” Gregory said of his good fortune. “I’m happy to be alive.”


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