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Three Gloucester men survive sinking boat and cold night in swamp

A simple disposable Bic cigarette lighter helped three stranded men survive a frigid night after their boat sank in the Dragon Run.

Three Gloucester men were fishing from a 19-foot bass boat on Sunday, March 14, about 3:30 p.m., when the bait well hose became disconnected and the small boat started taking on water, said Billy Wilson. In two minutes they were in the frigid water that was about 54 degrees. The boat went down close to shore and they pulled the bow to shallow water so only the stern was submerged.

Fortunately, they were near the land and were able to wade to the Middlesex County side.

Their soaked cell phones were useless. Only one person on land knew they had gone fishing at the headwaters of the Piankatank River where it meets the Dragon Run. Now, Wilson, Darrell Danley and John Sanders were in a nameless marsh, soaking wet with a cold wind blowing and temperatures in the 40s.

Drying their clothes was essential to survival.

Luckily, Wilson had the disposa...

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