Norfolk Man Missing on Small Raft Found Alive after 33 Hours Adrift

A Norfolk, Virginia man who caused a multi-agency search on the water, was found alive after he was adrift in an 8-foot raft for more than 33 hours.

49-year-old Wesley Schoonmaker came ashore with his raft Sunday, at a Machipongo, Virginia beach, and walked into a neighbor's backyard. That neighbor called 911, where dispatchers notified the Coast Guard.

 Lorraine Merrill, shipspotting.com

Lorraine Merrill, shipspotting.com

Schoonmaker originally launched his raft near Willoughby Spit Saturday, planning to test a new paddle for the 8-foot vessel. He later said he was immediately blown away from the shore. Overnight he drifted north with his raft until he landed in Machipongo.

The Coast Guard launched a 45-foot Coast Guard Response crew from Stations Portsmouth and Little Creek, and the Cutter Mako was diverted to join the search. An MH-60 helicopter, along with Virginia Marine Police crews, also helped search through the night Saturday and into Sunday. In all they searched 1,438 miles.

Schoonmaker was reported to be windburned but in stable condition and was taken to Riverside Hospital.

“We appreciate the team effort from different agencies and stations during the search,” said Coast Guard Lt.j.g. Bradley S. Milliken, command duty officer at the Sector Hampton Roads Command Center in Portsmouth. “We’re glad he’s okay.”

Bay Bulletin