Coast Guard rescues 2 boaters in pleasure craft taking on water near Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands

9th Coast Guard District News
CLEVELAND — A Wisconsin-based Coast Guard boatcrew rescued two boaters Tuesday morning who were on a 26-foot pleasure craft taking on water near Hermit Island, in the Apostle Islands, in western Lake Superior.

The search-and-rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., was contacted at 6:44 a.m. on VHF-FM marine radio by someone aboard the pleasure craft, who reported their boat was taking on water. According to the reporting source, both boaters put on life jackets and were unable to keep up with the water entering the vessel, estimating it was coming in at a rate of about 80 gallons per minute. They believed they struck a submerged log, which tore off the engine’s lower unit.

The surface temperate was 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

The SAR controller at Sector Sault Ste. Marie immediately began issuing urgent marine information broadcasts, alerting nearby mariners of the emergency. He also directed the launch of a rescue boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Bayfield, Wis., aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium and a rescue helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

The RB-M crew arrived on scene within 12 minutes. As a result, the helicopter crew was directed to stand down.

Once on scene, one member of the RB-M crew took a dewatering pump from the response boat and boarded the pleasure craft in order to continuously dewater while the RB-M crew towed the vessel to Blackwater Marina in Bayfield. The owner was able to trailer the boat safely. There were no injuries reported.

“These boaters did everything right,” said Cmdr. Marko Broz, chief of response at Sector Sault Ste. Marie. “They contacted the Coast Guard quickly via VHF-FM marine radio and made sure they were wearing their life jackets.”

“Had they gone into the water, which is still just above freezing, who knows how long they could have lasted?”

The Coast Guard reminds boaters to carry emergency communication devices onboard their vessels. A VHF-FM marine radio is the best and easiest way to contact the Coast Guard in an emergency situation. Cell phones are good as well, but serve better as a secondary form of communication due to possibilities of coverage gaps. Flares and other emergency signaling devices are important, too.

Among those 459 who drowned across the nation in 2012, 379 — or nearly 85 percent — involved victims who were known to not be wearing a life jacket. Federal laws require children 13 years and younger to wear life jackets at all times while underway and require vessels to have enough life jackets for everyone onboard, regardless of age. The Coast Guard recommends boaters go one step further, choosing to wear life jackets at all times. If a boater enters the water, more often than not he does so unexpectedly. The only life jacket that will save your life is the one you’re wearing.

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