Troy Petro and a friend managed to avoid the propeller as they waited for help in the water about a quarter-mile from the St. Petersburg Pier.
The men had just tossed chum into the water, which could have attracked sharks.
Petro was not seriously injured and swam to shore. His friend, who was operating the boat when it hit the wake, suffered a broken leg, and was picked up by another boater.
Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission let the boat spin about 90 minutes until it ran out of fuel. The boat was then towed back to shore.
FWC officials said the pair could have avoided some of the danger with the proper safety equipment, including a wrist laynard attached to a motor “kill switch,” according to News Channel 8.