Reminds me of a situation where we were making passage between Block Island and the Eastern end of Long Island. It wasn't foggy, but visibility was poor, maybe a few miles. You could not see shore by a long shot, but could certainly see a distance. As we're sailing, we see an orange lump in the sea, too far away to be able to fully make it out. It could be a life jacket. For a few moments, getting further away, I'm asking myself if that could really have been what we saw. I say to my wife that we should turn around and go over to check. To my surprise, she become extremely anxious that we may find someone dead in a life jacket. I can't know she would have sailed on, if alone, but it did seem that intense. I can't imagine she would approach a vessel, with sick or injured or even dead crew, particularly if she might be outnumbered and overwhelmed. I'm sure she would call for help on the radio.
We turned around. On the entire 5 ish minute return trip, she was visibly anxious, even scared. As we approached, it turned out to be an orange mylar balloon. Whew.
This reminds me of another situation I was in some years ago. We had taken a mooring at Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor and were having dinner when there was a commotion on a motor boat perhaps a 100 yards away. We couldn't quite see what was going on, but there seemed to be someone in the water. But the boat was under power, there were a lot of young people on it, and there were other motor boats actively moored closer to them. Then a number of police, rescue, and firefighter boats come screaming from all directions towards the boat. We hear a call on Ch.16 from the police or CG to look for what sounded like 'missing limb in the water'. We thought we'd misheard, but then a police boat approaches to ask us if we didn't see a missing arm in the water! We slipped our mooring and starting circling, looking for the missing arm in the water along with a bunch of other boats, a pleasant dinner on a beautiful night having turned into a gruesome search.
Yup, this was the infamous 'Naut guilty' (the boat's name) incident, where a 19 yo girl had jumped in the water to 'rescue' a lost cushion, and the boat backed over her, the prop severing her arm, never to be found. The boat was owned by a DUI lawyer who also was a part-owner of a liquor store in Charlestown. Everyone of 15 or so people onboard this small boat were very drunk, many underage. The authorities tried to shut the liquor store down after that incident, I think unsuccessfully. Then a friend happened to sit in the seat next to a girl on a flight out of Boston some years later. She was missing an arm, and he couldn't resist asking if it was her, which it was. You can't make this stuff up.