Andrew Dillman's closest friends are calling him a hero.
"He jumped in to save someone that he didn't even know, just to save somebody else's life he gave his own," said Brooke Kauvaras.
Dillman, a first mate with Florida Yacht Charter, dove into dangerous water to save Jie Lou, a chinese foreign exchange student.
More than a dozen students on spring break from Colorado State University, along with the boat's captain, watched as high winds and a strong current near Pass-a-Grille Channel swept the two away Tuesday night.
Several agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, performed extensive searches on the water, from the air and along the nearby land with no success in locating the missing boaters.
"He always made the mood lighter and happy and made everyone laugh," said Kouvaras.
Kouvaras told ABC Action News that she has stayed at Dillman's home in the days since he went missing, hoping for the best.
"We were just waiting for him to come home," she said.
Friends say Dillman died doing a job he loved.
"He had the warmest heart ever," said Kouvaras. "He cared about every single person."
Jie Lou's body has not been recovered.
Deputies say the Pinellas County Sheirff's Office flight unit will make spot checks in the water they can.