CLEVELAND — Five instances of boaters operating under the influence of alcohol and 13 search and rescue cases across the Great Lakes during the recent holiday weekend showcase the need for boating safety precautions and the importance of boaters looking out for each other.
Numerous good Samaritan boaters and local responders arrived on scene and rendered assistance to distressed boaters prior to the Coast Guard arriving during Memorial Day weekend, the weekend that is unofficially known as the beginning of the boating season in the Great Lakes.
Friday afternoon Coast Guard Station Manistee, Michigan, personnel received a cellular telephone call from a 21-foot pleasure craft with five people aboard reporting their boat was taking on water 5.5 miles southwest of the Manistee Pierheads. The boat was dead in the water and the engine compartment was flooded. Everybody aboard the boat was wearing a lifejacket and was bailing water upon the arrival of the Coast Guard boat crew. The rescue boat crew placed a P-6 dewatering pump aboard the vessel to assist in the dewatering. The Coast Guard towed the boat and boaters to shore.
About 7:30 p.m. Friday, Coast Guard Sector Detroit personnel received notification of a 39-foot pleasure craft taking on water but making way toward Port Sanilac, Michigan. The search-and-rescue coordinator at Sector Detroit sent out an urgent marine information broadcast, which was responded to by the Port Sanilac harbor master. The harbor master directed the boat to moor at a fuel dock where portable dewatering pumps were passed over to the boaters.
About 3:30 p.m. Saturday, a boat crew from Coast Guard Station Sodus Bay, New York, responded to a report of a 50-foot boat with two people aboard taking on water. The Coast Guard boat crew arrived on scene and escorted the boat into the marina where the boat was immediately lifted out of the water for inspection and repair.
About 5:15 p.m. Saturday a male aboard a personal watercraft ran aground in the vicinity of Mission Point Lighthouse in Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan. The man was unable to get to shore due to the cold water and his physical condition. Due to the location of the personal watercraft, a water rescue from boat crews was not available. A Peninsula Township first responder reached the distressed man via land and was able to escort the man to safety. The owner of the personal watercraft arranged for salvage.
About 9:45 p.m. Saturday, the Coast Guard responded to a flare sighting in the vicinity of White Lake in Muskegon, Michigan, but prior to their arrival the fishing vessel Dominator assisted the distressed boaters and towed them safely into Lakeside Marina.
Sunday afternoon a boat crew from Coast Guard Station Harbor Beach, Michigan, assisted a boater who had fallen into the water while trying to fix his disabled boat. The Coast Guard boat crew assisted the boater back aboard his boat and towed the vessel to shore. A boarding team also issued a citation to the boaters for not having federally-mandated safety equipment aboard the vessel.
Also Sunday afternoon Coast Guard personnel from Station Tawas, Michigan, and local fire department personnel responded to a rainbow sheen near the Singing River Bridge in the Au Gres River. Responders deployed boom and absorbent pads to prevent further spread of the sheen. The cause of the sheen was discovered to be 30 gallons of heating oil that came from a local resident’s sump pump activated due to his basement flooding.
About 8 p.m. Sunday, a Lake Erie Towing boat crew assisted seven boaters whose boat had run aground in the vicinity of Johnson Island, Ohio. Lake Erie Towing removed the boat from the sand bar and towed it to the Johnson Island Marina.
Late Sunday night the Coast Guard responded to a report of a 42-foot yacht which hit a breakwall near Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland. There were no injuries reported and the yacht did not take on water. A Coast Guard boat crew from Station Cleveland Harbor escorted the yacht into the E. 55th Street Marina.
About 9:45 a.m. Monday, the Coast Guard and Lake Erie Towing responded to distress calls over VHF-FM channel 16, which came from the vicinity of Sandusky, Ohio. The Lake Erie Towing company arrived on scene first and assisted the boaters who were stuck soft aground. The boaters’ voyage was terminated by the Coast Guard after a post search-and-rescue boarding determined that the boaters were operating the boat without federally-mandated safety equipment aboard.
About 1 p.m. Monday, a Coast Guard boat crew from Station St. Clair Shores, Michigan, assisted a boater who was aboard a 20-foot boat that was disabled and anchored but was taking on water over the transom. The Coast Guard boat crew was able to dewater the boat and towed it to the 9 mile public access boat ramp.
About 2 p.m. Monday, a good Samaritan boater responded to an urgent marine information broadcast from Coast Guard Sector Detroit and assisted seven boaters aboard a 19-foot pleasure craft, which had ran out of gas near Catawba Island, Ohio.
About 3 p.m. Monday, a Coast Guard boat crew from Station Sackets Harbor, New York, towed a disabled 19-foot pleasure craft with four people aboard to the city pier.
The Coast Guard also was busy enforcing maritime laws over the weekend, citing five boaters for boating under the influence of alcohol and three boaters for simple possession of Marijuana.