Coast Guard tows vessel with family of 4 aboard to safety near Buffalo Harbor

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CLEVELAND — The Coast Guard rescued a family of four, Thursday night, after the family’s boat became disabled and nearly drifted into the breakwall near the Buffalo Harbor in Buffalo, New York.

At about 8 p.m., a watchstander at Coast Guard Station Buffalo answered a phone call from boaters who were in distress in the Buffalo Harbor. After receiving the distress call, the watchstander immediately hit the search-and-rescue alarm at the station which signals a ready boat crew to launch. While preparing to launch, they were briefed of the situation. A family of four that included two children under the age of 10 were aboard a disabled boat and drifting quickly toward the break wall, about one-half mile from the Coast Guard station.

Upon arriving on scene, the rescue crew aboard a 45-foot response boat immediately tossed a line to the boaters and set up a tow. The rescue boat crew towed the boaters out of harms way before transferring tow responsibilities to Lake Erie Towing, which safely assisted the family to shore and then moored the boat.

“The boaters did everything they could to help themselves in this emergency situation, and that is all we can ask as rescuers,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeremy Bossinger, the coxswain aboard the rescue boat. “These boaters had their life jackets on, called for help quickly and threw their anchor overboard, even though it did not hold because of the 8 to 12 knot current and the rocky bottom.”

The boaters found themselves in distress after their vessel ran over a reef within the harbor and fouled their prop.

“It’s important to either have local knowledge of the area you’re boating in or give strict heed to local advice about the area from local boaters,” said Bossinger. “In this case, the boaters had electronic charts and a paper chart aboard the vessel that showed a possible safe passage through the water, but local knowledge would have helped in preventing this situation. The reef that they dragged across is well known by local and experienced boaters. Our rule of thumb is to only use electronic and paper charts as a starting point when planning and navigating the water.”

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