Coast Guard locates 4 boaters on overdue vessel, concluding 9-hour search

9th Coast Guard District News
SAULT STE MARIE, Mich.  Crews concluded a nine-hour search effort for four people reported overdue when they were found safe Sunday in western Lake Superior.The names of those aboard are not being released, and there is no Coast Guard imagery.

The search began when a family member of one of the boaters called the Lake County, Minn., emergency dispatch to report that the vessel was overdue at about 1 a.m. Sunday.

According to the overdue vessel report, the boat had four people aboard and was supposed to begin the 35-mile transit to the Apostle Islands from Silver Bay, Minn., at about noon. At some point, the operator indicated to the reporting source that plans had changed and the new destination was Palisade Head, which is a 10-mile round-trip that should have taken about two hours to complete.  When the vessel did not return to Silver Bay from Palisade Head, the reporting source called the authorities.

Searchand-rescue controllers at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie directed the search efforts until the vessel was located in the vicinity of Sand Island in the Apostle Island range at about 10 a.m. Repeated attempts to hail the overdue vessel over VHF-FM radio during the search and once on scene with the vessel were unsuccessful. All persons aboard were found in good health and there were no vessel, mechanical or structural problems reported.  The operator indicated that there was a miscommunication of the destination with the reported that reported the vessel as overdue.

Coast Guard crews involved in the search were: an aircrew aboard an MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich.; boatcrews aboard a Response Boat-Medium and a Response Boat-Small from Coast Guard Station Bayfield, Wis.; a boatcrew aboard an RB-M from Coast Guard Station Duluth, Minn.; and a boatcrew aboard an RB-S from Coast Guard Station North Superior in Grand Marais, Minn.

Minnesota law enforcement crews involved were: four boatcrews from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Silver Bay Police Department aboard local law enforcement agency boats; and an aircrew aboard a Minnesota State Police helicopter.

Canadian Coast Guard crews involved were: an aircrew aboard a C-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“Providing a detailed float plan with voyage contingencies and alternate plans to a trusted shoreside contact is extremely important,” said Lt. Richard Sansone, a search-and-rescue mission coordinator at Sector Sault Ste. Marie.

“If you become overdue, it can help the Coast Guard locate you faster and assist you if you are in distress. If you are not in distress, it allows the Coast Guard to reallocate its resources to help those who are.”

While the U.S. Coast Guard is pleased that this search-and-rescue effort had a positive outcome, this case illustrates the importance of having a proper means of communicating while boating.  Mobile phones may seem appropriate during short boating trips, but signal dead zones may prevent an emergency communication when needed.  The U.S. Coast Guard encourages all boaters to utilize mobile phones as a backup means of communication and make VHF-FM radios the primary means to communicate in an emergency.  Boaters should continuously monitor channel 16, as there may be broadcasts pertinent to safety during the voyage.

Click here for information regarding float plans.

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