August 28, 2014

Elyria
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Boats adrift cause lake search

Coast Guard employs chopper, but no one was aboard canoe, kayak

AVON LAKE — No one was actually missing, but two loose boats floating on Lake Erie tied up U.S. Coast Guard boats and a helicopter for seven hours Friday.
A canoe and kayak apparently were not secured well and drifted away from a lakeside residence in Sheffield Lake — but the Coast Guard didn’t know that and launched a search and rescue operation to find what it presumed were missing boaters after the first report of the drifting boats came in shortly before 6 a.m.
The search was called off at about 1 p.m. after a woman called Sheffield Lake police to report the missing boats, said Jason Blackman, officer in charge at the Coast Guard’s Lorain station.
In the meantime, the Coast Guard spent $71,400, the bulk of which was $56,000 for man hours and fuel used by a helicopter dispatched from Detroit, Petty Officer William Mitchell said.
A police boat from Avon Lake also searched the area.
“I’m just happy no one got hurt,” Mitchell said. “It really sounded like there were people out there.”
Meanwhile, the Lorain station’s 41-foot Coast Guard boat broke a seal during the search, resulting in a rush to fix it in case a real emergency occurred.
A second smaller Coast Guard boat involved in the search — a 25-footer — went through a half tank of gas, or about 60 gallons, said Petty Officer Andrew Bartos.
Paul Kuss, 41, watched the flurry of activity from Miller Road Park before going to work at a nearby animal care center.
“I’m glad nobody drowned,” he said.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.

Coast Guard Safety Tips
* Make sure to secure your gear so the Coast Guard can focus on people in real need.
* Ask for a vessel safety check through the Lorain Coast Guard Auxiliary at www.vesselsafetycheck.org. There is no penalty for any problems that are found.
* Let friends, relatives or neighbors know you’re going out on the lake and when you expect to return.
* Have a marine band radio that allows you to seek help from the Coast Guard, which the Guard prefers over being contacted by cell phone. Wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets, even if you’re a good swimmer — a problem could occur miles from shore, and you could be subject to currents or be knocked unconscious in an accident.
* Don’t BUI — boat under the influence.
Source: William Mitchell of the U.S. Coast Guard