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How Jimmy Buffett Once Saved Colin Jost from Drowning After a Surfing Mishap

The 'Saturday Night Live' star recalled Buffett coming to his rescue in his 2020 memoir, 'A Very Punchable Face'

<p>Jamie McCarthy/Getty, Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty </p> Colin Jost; Jimmy Buffett

Jamie McCarthy/Getty, Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty

Colin Jost; Jimmy Buffett

The late Jimmy Buffett wasn’t just a singer-songwriter and entrepreneur. He was a hero — at least, if you ask Colin Jost.

The Saturday Night Live star was once saved from a surfing mishap by the “Margaritaville” singer, who died on Sept. 1 at age 76, four years after he was diagnosed with Merkel cell carcinoma.

In a story recounted in his 2020 memoir A Very Punchable Face, Jost revealed that Buffett came to his rescue after he nearly drowned while surfing in St. Bart’s in 2014.

The comedian, 41, said he and journalist Carmel Lobello, his girlfriend at the time, were spending New Year’s at a villa on the Caribbean island when he wound up seated next to Buffett one night at dinner.

Though Jost explained that he was a huge fan of Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurants, he didn’t immediately recognize Buffett, and it was only when the star mentioned his famous eatery that things clicked.

Jost and Buffett hit it off during the dinner, so Buffett invited the comedian to join him on the beach the next day to ride some waves, Jost wrote in his book. When he arrived on the secluded beach, he found Buffett ready to go with his kids by his side.

<p>Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic</p> Jimmy Buffett attends opening night of his jukebox musical "Escape to Margaritaville" in New York City in 2018.

Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Jimmy Buffett attends opening night of his jukebox musical "Escape to Margaritaville" in New York City in 2018.

Related: Jimmy Buffett's Final Days Were Filled with Laughter, Says Sister: 'He Brought Joy to So Many' (Exclusive)

Though Jost described himself as a “decent” surfer, Buffett still offered some advice, namely that he should take care to avoid the rocks sitting near the shore.

“I remember acting nonchalant and saying, ‘Oh yeah. Rocks. Haha. Totally,’” Jost wrote in the book. “And then I immediately forgot what he had just told me.”

The comedian said he headed out into the water, and started riding waves between three and four feet tall. As Buffett hung out with his family, Jost rode a wave in. But when he hopped off his board, he quickly realized he was stuck, as his leash was caught under the rocks Buffett had warned him about.

Though the singer called out to ask if Jost was doing OK, the star said he was hopeful he could leave the situation without having to make a fool of himself in front of Buffett.

<p>Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage</p> Jimmy Buffett performing in New Orleans in 2022.

Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage

Jimmy Buffett performing in New Orleans in 2022.

“Luckily, Jimmy Buffett can spot an idiot from fifty feet away,” he wrote. “He starts paddling in to see what’s going on, and then looks horrified when he sees me pinned against the rocks by own leash. ‘What are you doing?! I told you about the rocks!’”

Jost wrote that at this point, his mouth was full of seawater, he was struggling to tread water and he was bleeding after slicing his foot open on a rock — so in came Buffett, who saved the day by slicing the leash off Jost’s surfboard with a knife.

“I unhook the leash and swim back through the breaking waves with my bleeding foot, and Jimmy Buffett is waiting outside the waves with my surfboard, and I’m super apologetic for not only interrupting his family vacation, but also for destroying his leash and forcing a seventy-one-year-old man to endanger his own life to save mine,” he wrote. “Jimmy hands me the board and points to a gentler section of waves to the right and says, ‘That might be more your speed over there.’”

Buffett was an avid surfer up until his final years; in January, he texted friend and surfing legend Kelly Slater to say he was headed back to St. Bart now that he was “in surfing shape.”

Related: Jimmy Buffett's Sister Reveals They Faced Cancer at the Same Time: 'Thunderstruck He Didn't Make It' (Exclusive)

“We have had great waves down here all month, and I got a few big ones (for me) on my 76th birthday morning,” he wrote to Slater, who shared a screenshot of the text to Instagram. “Not letting the old man in.”

Slater, 51, wrote in a poignant tribute that he first met Buffett in France in 2010 about eight years after losing his father Stephen, and that the musician soon became a father figure to him.

“The first day I told him how much he reminded me of my own father and from that moment on he kind of became a surrogate to me, occasionally calling me from some far off land telling me he missed me and I had to come visit him wherever he was,” Slater wrote. “He told me life was too short not to take every good opportunity that came along and go live it.”

Buffett’s family announced his death on Saturday, sharing that he died at home in Sag Harbor, New York, surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs.

“He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many,” the statement read.

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