Missing Lake Superior boaters found safeA large-scale air and water search for a missing boat on Lake Superior ended positively Monday morning, when two adults, two children and their 23-foot cuddy cabin boat were located safe and sound in the Apostle Islands.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
A large-scale air and water search for a missing boat on Lake Superior ended positively Monday morning, when two adults, two children and their 23-foot cuddy cabin boat were located safe and sound in the Apostle Islands.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office received a call late Sunday evening from the concerned mother of one of the children who had gone out on the boat with family friends, after the vessel had not returned as planned. The party left the Silver Bay Marina at 12:40 p.m. Sunday and was expected to be out on the water for a few hours, according to Lake County Sheriff Carey Johnson.
After the boat was reported overdue, search teams from Lake County, St. Louis County, Cook County, Bayfield County, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota State Patrol took part in the search. The effort involved boats, helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft.
A report of a possible sighting of the missing vessel occurred at 9:10 a.m. Monday, with the boat tied to a dock at Sand Island in the Apostles. Its identity was confirmed at 9:18 a.m., Johnson said.
The boat was registered to a South Dakota man, Kevin Miller, who was operating it with his wife. Johnson said the couple had talked about possibly visiting the Apostle Islands but because of weather conditions had said they would probably opt to stick to the North Shore of Lake Superior, visiting Palisade Head instead.
Those plans changed when the couple got out on the water.
“I think this was basically the result of a lack of communication,” Johnson said of the ensuing confusion.
He said it remains unclear why the Millers spent the night at Sand Island, but rough weather might have prompted them not to attempt a return Sunday. Johnson also said poor cell phone coverage or mechanical issues could have played a role, as well.
“We don’t know right now, but we will find out more when they get back,” Johnson said Monday, explaining that the Millers were expected to return to Silver Bay later in the day.
A release from the Coast Guard said no mechanical or structural problems were reported.
In a statement issued after the search had concluded, Lt. Richard Sansone, search-and-rescue mission coordinator for Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, offered boaters some advice.
“Providing a detailed float plan with voyage contingencies and alternate plans to a trusted shoreside contact is extremely important,” he said.
“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,” Sansone observed.
He also stressed the importance of maintaining proper lines of communication while on the water. Sansone noted that the Coast Guard encourages all boaters to use VHF-FM radios as their primary means of emergency communication and advised people to continuously monitor channel 16 for news and bulletins that can improve voyage safety.