CLEVELAND — A float plan was the key to sucess in the rescue of three people and a dog who were found stranded on their grounded boat on Middle Sister Island in Lake Erie Wednesday afternoon following a search by the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards, multiple state and local agencies, and a good Samaritan.
“It’s important for mariners to remember to bring along proper signaling gear, such as a marine radio, flares or even a cell phone,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Gabriel Settel, the assistant command center chief at Coast Guard Sector Detroit. “Letting someone know where you are going is just as important as safety gear, and in this case resulted in lives saved.”
Just before 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, the watchstander at Coast Guard Station Toledo, Ohio, received a report of an overdue 17-foot yellow, black and white boat with three people and a dog aboard. The reporting source stated the boaters had left the previous evening from Lake Erie Metropark and had yet to return. She said the last she heard from them was shortly before 10 p.m. when they stated they were having trouble finding their way back to shore.
Command center watchstanders at Sector Detroit diverted a Coast Guard Air Station Detroit helicopter crew from training, launched crews from Coast Guard Station Toledo, aboard a 45-foot response boat, and Coast Guard Station Belle Isle, Michigan, aboard a 25-foot response boat. The Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and Canadian Coast Guard crews also responded. Sector Detroit also issued an urgent marine information broadcast to advise other mariners of the situation and ask them to keep an eye out.
At about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, a good Samaritan located the people, the dog and the vessel on Middle Sister Island in western Lake Erie. The boaters reported that after they were unable to locate the marina entrance, they became disoriented and set their anchor for the night. When they awoke in the morning, the anchor had not held and the vessel had drifted onto the island, leaving them stranded there. Without a way to communicate their need for assistance, they hung life jackets in trees so passing boats might see them.
The Wayne County Marine Unit picked the people and the dog up from the island and transferred them to the Station Toledo rescue boat. They were taken to Station Toledo where the person who reported them missing picked them up.
There were no reports of injuries or pollution and the owner plans to salvage the vessel.