RI native survives Hurricane Florence on boat

A native Rhode Island man is grateful to be alive after spending the peak of Hurricane Florence on his boat. (WJAR)

A native Rhode Island man is grateful to be alive after spending the peak of Hurricane Florence on his boat.

Bruce Cornford, who now lives in eastern North Carolina, said he got on his boat "Salacia" Thursday with limited supplies, including water, a carton of cigarettes, Spam and Oodles of Noodles.

“Everyone thought I was daft for wanting to do that,” Cornford told NBC 10 News. “The truth is I would have lost my boat completely if I didn’t.”

Cornford said waves and rogue sailboats crashed into him. Water crested at about 13 feet around Fairfield Harbor.

“The scariest moment was when I ran out of diesel and I was going around the point,” Cornford said. “I looked out into the main river and there were six to eight foot breaking whitecap swells like the kind you’d find on Narragansett Beach for surfing.”

By 3 a.m. Friday, Cornford was desperate for safety.

“The best thing I could do is head for the trees and I just put her nose in to the tree line and took a line I had on the boat and patched myself to a tree,” he said.

A boater rescued Cornford Friday, but his boat remains in the marsh. About a dozen boats are damaged in the harbor.

“A lot of people have asked me, ‘would you go back out during a hurricane?’ The answer to that is yes,” he said. “I’m in one piece and now it’s time for rebuilding.”

Cornford told NBC 10 a barge will bring a crane to pull his boat out of the marsh Wednesday.

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