Something doesn't add up here. An admittedly very novice sailor goes out fishing several miles offshore? Even a rank amateur (like me) knows that Cape Hatteras is an iffy proposition.
He lives at the marina and presumably knows a number of experienced mariners, yet decides to go out alone? So, at first light.. say 5:30 a.m., he gets the boat ready. Off the dock by 6:30. He's then looking at a minimum of 6 hours motor sailing down the river just to get out into the atlantic. To fish for an hour, turn around, and return after sunset? Unlikely.
Or, he's planning to take his untested boat out alone and heave to in the shipping channel overnight? Just going out solo in January sounds almost unreal. Also, how do you get de-masted and capsize? I guess you could lose your mast in a full roll, but I thought that was an either-or proposition. Either you get blown all the way over, or the rigging gives way.
I'm not saying any of it's impossible. It just defies logic and begs for a simpler explanation... especially given the fact he was rescued in such good shape. That's a long time to be constantly wet and freezing cold.