Coast Guard rescues 3 women who became stranded while canoeing in Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay

Coast Guard District 9 NewsCLEVELAND — A Coast Guard boatcrew rescued three women who had become stranded on Grass Island in Thunder Bay Saturday evening.

Rescued were one 16-year-old and two 18-year-olds, all from the local area.

The Coast Guard was notified at 7:45 p.m. by a 911 dispatcher who was called by one of the women.  They had reportedly been canoeing on Thunder Bay Saturday when wind and waves became too strong and they ended up on Grass Island with no way of getting off.

A rescue boatcrew aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small from Coast Guard Station Alpena, Mich., launched and recovered all three women and their canoe at 9:06 p.m.

Once ashore, the three were turned over to parents.  They declined medical care.

The women were not wearing lifejackets.

Paddlesports are the fastest growing segment of recreational boating, with more than 300,000 paddlecraft now being sold annually.  Paddlecraft are an extremely affordable entry point to recreational boating, which is attractive to new boaters, boaters downsizing from larger boats and those interested in getting closer to the environment.

The Coast Guard provides the following tips for those considering taking up a paddlesport:

  • New and inexperienced paddlers should seek out paddler education before heading out on the water.  The Coast Guard Auxiliary now offers the “Paddlesports America Course,” a four-hour, classroom-based introduction to paddling safety, techniques and safety strategies.  For Coast Guard Auxiliary course information, visit:
  • Paddlers need to dress for the water temperature rather than the air temperature and wear the proper personal protective clothing, including dry or wet suits, when advisable.
  • A lifejacket is one of a paddler’s primary pieces of safety gear.  Any lifejackets worn is better than none at all, however, the Coast Guard recommends paddlers use lifejackets that are inherently buoyant rather than inflatable.  This makes reentering a paddlecraft, especially a sit-inside kayak, easier in the event of a roll-over.  Lifejackets should be brightly colored to increase visibility to boaters in power and sail craft.
  • Paddlers should always check the weather forecast before paddling and should always file a “Float Plan.”  Paddlers should resist the temptation to paddle alone and instead paddle with a partner or in groups.  This reduces risk to an individual in the event of an emergency.  Paddling in groups increases the chances of being seen by boaters operating power and sail craft in the vicinity.
  • Paddlers need to understand their physical limitations and endurance.  Paddling can be strenuous exercise.  Paddlers should be physically fit and know techniques for self-rescue, as well as how to rescue fellow paddlers.
  • Paddlers are encouraged to invest in a waterproof, hand-held VHF-FM marine radio as their primary means of distress alerting on the water.  Communication via VHF-FM radio provides superior alerting capabilities compared to cell phones.  When a MAYDAY is sent out via VHF-FM radio it is a broadcast and not just one party is receiving the distress call; any nearby boaters can hear the distress call and offer immediate assistance.
  • Day and night visible flares, a signal mirror, and/or a whistle, sound producing device should be used to alert others that you are in distress
  • A float plan should be completed and left with someone who is not going with the recreational boaters.  A float plan is a lifesaving device on paper and provides emergency responders with valuable information of they need to search for a distressed boater.  Information on a float plan, and how to obtain a blank float plan, can be found at 
  • A Personal Locator Beacon is a compact device that is clipped to one’s person, normally on the lifejacket one is wearing.  In the U.S., users are required by law to directly register their PLB in the U.S. 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database at: or by calling 1-888-212-SAVE. Other users can register their beacon in their country’s national beacon registration database or, if no national database is available, in the International Beacon Registration Database at
    • Once activated in a distress situation, the PLB transmits a 406 MHz signal to the International Cospas-Sarsat Satellite System which provides distress alert and location data for search and rescue operations around the world.
    • When a 406 MHz beacon signal is received, search and rescue personnel can retrieve information from a registration database. This includes the beacon owner’s contact information, emergency contact information, and vessel/aircraft identifying characteristics. Having this information allows the Coast Guard, or other rescue personnel, to respond appropriate

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