U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards had a busy day on May 16 and four people probably owe their lives to them.
The first mayday call came in before 3 a.m. A 37-foot sailboat was taking on water with one man aboard, according to a U.S. Coast Guard press release.
Coast Guard Sector Buffalo dispatched a boat and, upon a request, Air Station Detroit sent a helicopter.
The stranded man reported he’s leaving the boat in a dingy and being swept out into the lake.
As the boat was located off Pt. Abino, Ontario, Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton, Ontario, also sent two vessels and an airplane.
The Buffalo crew picked up the man, an American. He was wearing a life jacket and EMS reported he was cold but alert.
The water was 46 degrees that day with 6-foot swells.
Shortly after the rescue, another call came in. A 42-foot yacht had capsized 23 miles west of Long Point, Ontario. The message said three people—two men and one woman—were clinging to the hull.
The two vessels from Trenton, the airplane, and the helicopter that just completed the first rescue, were sent out again.
The helicopter found the yacht broken apart. The three boaters had been in the freezing water for close to 2 hours already, according to their account.
Lt. Rachel Quatroche, the helicopter pilot from Air Station Detroit, said the people were smart to put their life jackets on when they saw the yacht might capsize.
“Had the survivors not been wearing their life jackets, it is unlikely they would have been able to remain floating in the rough conditions,” she said.
But the helicopter was starting to run low on fuel.
The helicopter jettisoned a water pump to lose weight and dropped a rescue swimmer into the lake.
The boaters were showing signs of hypothermia. The helicopter hoisted them out and took them to EMS in Erie, Penn., leaving the rescue swimmer behind.
Just as the helicopter was departing, the Canadian Coast Guard vessel arrived and picked up the swimmer.
The survivors, Canadians, declined medical assistance.