Idiots afloat: Three rescued from icy lake when sailboat capsised

Owen Sound Sun Times, Ontario, Canada.

Three people were rescued after their sailboat overturned in Lake Huron north of Bayfield on June 10, 2018.

Huron OPP Marine Unit said it's urging boaters to ensure safety is their number one priority when out on the lake, following the successful rescue mission by the Huron OPP Marine Unit and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Shortly after 11 a.m. on Sunday, Huron OPP received a 9-1-1 call about a small sailboat that had capsized in Lake Huron north of Bayfield about two kilometres from shore.

Three London residents, all between the ages of 19 to 24 plunged into the frigid water when their sailboat capsized. The strong winds and heavy wave activity on Lake Huron simply overpowered the inexperienced and ill-prepared sail-boaters. There was no safety equipment on board the vessel nor were any of them wearing life jackets or personal floatation devices.

Fortunately, the OPP Marine Unit was in the area and was able to locate the small boat within 10 minutes. Upon arriving on scene officers located the three men all submerged in the water attempting to hold onto the overturned hull of the sailboat. Officers were able to pull out the panicked and exhausted males from the water into safety.

Members from the Canadian Coast Guard arrived on scene a few minutes later and were able to transport the males safely to shore whereupon they subsequently received treatment for hypothermia and exhaustion. 

“We are very fortunate these young males survived this life and death situation,” said sergeant Andrew MacIsaac of the Huron OPP. “It very easily could have been a tragedy. I cannot stress enough the importance of being prepared before you set sail.

MacIsaac said the best protection boaters can give themselves on the water is a lifejacket.

Huron OPP offers additional marine safety tips as well:

Life Jackets/PFD – A proper sized life jacket or PFD is required for each person on board. 

Competent Operator – Take a boating safety course and always carry your operator card with you.

Check and monitor the Marine Weather Forecast. Conditions can change quickly, particularly on larger bodies of water.

Sail Plan – Let someone know your planned route and estimated time of return. Time is of the essence in an emergency, it can make the difference between a rescue and a recovery. 

Safety Equipment – Required by law, requirements vary by type of vessel and size. Ensure you have the proper equipment on board each time you sail; it won't help you if it's left on the dock.

Charts and Compass – Be aware of local hazards, water levels, tides and know where you are at all times.

Fuel – 1/3 to go, 1/3 to return, 1/3 in reserve.

Boat Condition – Check the hull, hoses, lines, clamps and the battery. Regular maintenance reduces the risk of a break down on the water.

Leave the Beer on the Pier – Boaters caught drinking and boating in Ontario face the same consequences as drinking and driving on land. This includes power boats, canoes, kayaks, sail boats and personal watercraft. 

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