Published: May 23, 2012 5:58 PM EDT
Updated: May 23, 2012 10:09 PM EDT

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla.- There was a dramatic rescue off the coast of Bonita Beach Wednesday morning, as a Coast Guard swimmer pulled a man out of the Gulf. The good news is, it was all a drill ahead of one of the most dangerous weekends on the water.

Coast Guard auxiliary officers gave WINK News a close look as they brought a helicopter in for several rescue drills. It's all part of National Boat Safety Week, leading up to what is far too often a dangerous, even deadly, weekend on the water.

The scenario Wednesday was a victim in the Gulf, stranded and struggling to stay afloat. Coming to his aid were Coast Guard rescue swimmers who used a number of tactics to get him out, including this basket, called a litter, if he falls unconscious or suffers broken bones.

The display gives the public an idea of what rescue swimmers are up against. It was a nerveracking site for onlookers and that was the point.

The national boating fatality rate is at its peak. Florida averages 70 boat-related deaths every year. The biggest danger is alcohol.

Wednesday, sobering images will hopefully keep similar situations from becoming a real emergency. The Coast Guard will be stepping up patrols out on the water this weekend.

The Coast Guard reminds boaters that at least one properly sized life vest per person is required. They say 80 percent of boat-related deaths are people who drown due to not having a life vest.