I agree that there is more to this story than what has been reported here.
I know that boaters often carry Spots for the instant tracking feature (especially in races) but they should also have a PLB on-board. So did this guy only have a Spot?
I'd be interested in knowing why the Spot didn't get a GPS fix when it was on the open ocean? I know mine is really poor under tree cover but on the water I expect it to acquire a signal.
I am really surprised that Spot's team didn't notify Search and Rescue but I have to admit, that having a third party involved in the notification process really does worry me as well. If I was an adventurer that was getting into high risk situations, I'd probably carry both a PLB and a Spot (for the tracking) or at the very least a PLB.
For me, I consider the Spot an "I'm OK" check-in gadget that "might" work for my OK messages and I will prey that the SOS button works on the off chance that something actually does happen to me (kind of a better than nothing rationale with me...). At least I would have a shot a getting rescued which is much better than past years when I carried nothing (OK maybe a mirror).
I will add one thing that is often over-looked when discussing the Spot Connect (vs a regular Spot). The Spot Connect can work with a smart phone and can send custom messages, so if you are "with it" and physically capable, you can pull GPS coordinates from your handheld GPS or your GPS enabled phone and send a custom SOS distress message from your Spot Connect that includes your coordinates. Nice to have the ability to add your own coordinates to the message just in case the Spot can't pick up a GPS position (and IME, Spots don't seem very good at getting satellite locks). After that, I'd have to hope the Spot team would know what to do with the coordinates that I sent in my message... but at least I'd have a shot at a rescue!