Severe weather keeps Lake Champlain responders busy

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine – The Coast Guard urges boaters to be cautious while on Lake Champlain today due to strong winds and waves that have kept the Coast Guard and state and local rescue crews busy.

“We have already responded to six cases on the lake within seven hours today,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Jim Tallent, the command center supervisor for Coast Guard Sector Northern New England. “And the wind and waves are still pretty strong.”

With 25-knot winds and waves reaching up to six feet, rescue crews responded to a Mayday call, two capsized sailboats, another sailboat that ran aground, a pleasure boat taking on water and another pleasure boat that was adrift after breaking away from its mooring.

The first capsized sailboat was near South Hero Island, Vt. Coast Guard Station Burlington launched a 25-foot response boat and South Hero State Park personnel rescued the two people aboard. Both were wearing life jackets at the time.

Station Burlington also responded to the second capsized sailboat in the vicinity of Isle La Motte, Vt.

“Because we weren’t sure if anyone was aboard the sailboat when it capsized we launched the station’s 25-foot boat crew and diverted a Coast Guard Auxiliary aircraft from a patrol to begin a search,” Tallent said.

North Hero, Vt., and St. Albans, Vt., rescue crews also participated in the search and local authorities located the owner on another boat preparing to tow the sailboat to shore.

Coast Guard Sector Northern New England also received a short Mayday call. The sector issued an urgent marine broadcast asking mariners on Lake Champlain to respond if they heard or saw anyone in distress, but did not receive a response and was unable to determine a location of the call. The case has been suspended at this time.

The vessel that ran aground broke free from its mooring, possibly due to strong winds. Station Burlington launched a 25-foot rescue boat crew to see if there was anyone aboard the sailboat. The owner was located safe on land.

A boat crew from Station Burlington and Colchester County rescue crews responded to a pleasure boat with three people aboard after it began taking on water near Mallets Bay, Vt. The boat drifted toward shallow water and the three people swam to shore.

“Luckily no one was injured in any of these cases,” Tallent said. “We appreciate all the assistance we received from local and state rescue crews as well as the Coast Guard Auxiliary.”

Currently there are 20-knot winds and four-foot waves on Lake Champlain.

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