HOUSTON -

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a boy swept out to sea, hundreds of yards off Crystal Beach.

It started out as an innocent day at the beach when the 12-year-old boy, who was on an inner tube,  started to drift and was pulled out further and further. He was more than 300 yards off the coast and wasn't wearing a life jacket.

The USCG 4-person team, based out of Ellington Field, was out doing routine patrol work along the shore when they got call. They were able to locate the boy about nine minutes later and rescue him when the flight mechanic lowered the rescue swimmer to the water and hoisted the boy to safety.

"He was very scared," said Rodney Rios, a pilot with the U.S.Coast Guard crew that made the rescue. "He told us he was out there for about an hour trying to paddle back but he wasn't making very good headway."

The boy was clutching his inner tube, which ultimately may have been what saved him. 

"Best thing you can do is have something that floats with you, whether it's a life jacket, a raft or an inner tube. Any type of floatation device is what's going to save you," Rios told Local 2.

It's the start of summer and Rios wants to warn other beachgoers to be careful; the Gulf can be a dangerous place.

"Go out there and have a good time, keep a watchful eye on your loved ones an stay close to shore. Have fun, but stay close to the beach," he said.

The boatcrew arrived later and was able to recover the boy's inner tube.

We're told the boy and his family are on vacation from the Dallas area.