Later Medich revealed he had flunked Ellis in the course.
Out for a day of billfishing in the Gulf of Mexico on a recent weekend, C. E. Littlefield, his two sons and a friend found more action than they had anticipated. Twenty-five miles out of Port Aransas, Texas, Littlefield spotted what looked like some huge denizen of the deep splashing merrily in the early-morning sun. "Sailfish!" he cried. But just as excitedly the "fish" shouted back, "Hey, throw me a line!"
Several anxious minutes later the Littlefields boated their first catch of the day, which turned out to be Homer Roberson III, 19. "Y'all got a drink of water?" he said. Checking the heavens, an astonished Littlefield had one question. "Where'd you come from?"
Well, it's a long story—16 hours long, to be precise. Homer's odyssey had begun shortly before sunset the previous day. A crewman on the private fishing boat Puddin, he was standing alone in the stern when the craft, tooling home to Port Aransas, suddenly lurched and, he says, "I just fell overboard." No one aboard saw the mishap and Roberson's shouts were drowned out by the engine noise. "I was waiting for them to turn around and come back and get me," he says, "but they kept on going."
Recalling a tactic he had learned in a Red Cross life-saving class, Roberson took off his pants, tied knots in each leg and filled them with air. His impromptu water wings "worked all night." And a long night it was as the Puddin, a Coast Guard helicopter and several other rescue craft searched the area in vain. "They were all around me, private yachts and charter boats," Roberson says, "but they didn't see me," even though he was "lit up like a candle" by the phosphorescence of plankton in the water.
"Yeah, I saw the movie Jaws," says Roberson, "but I tried not to think about that." It wasn't easy; at one point, a large fish that "could have been a shark" bumped him, scraping the skin on one of his bare legs. He says, "I just kicked the thing and it went away." Later, a tanker that "just got bigger and bigger" bore down on him, passing so closely that "I could have hit it with a rock."
Just before dawn Roberson found himself surrounded by dorsal fins. But to his relief it was merely a school of passing porpoises. Then, at 8:45 a.m., came the Littlefields and the cry "Sailfish!"
Back at the dock, Roberson wolfed down two hamburgers, two grilled-cheese sandwiches and a pile of French fries and washed it all down with a bottle of champagne provided by a welcoming committee.
None the worse for his adventure, the next day Homer celebrated his deliverance like a true son of the sea. He went fishing.