First the Coast Guard Auxiliary Rescue Boat Andiamo received a sketchy report of a disable boat from the local sheriff's department who also provided the disabled boat's cell phone number. Communications between the Auxiliary Rescue Boat and the disabled boat was via text messaging because of a weak cellular signal. Using text messaging Andiamo was able to determine the disabled boat, a 27 foot ski boat had two people on board and that it was stranded in about 7 feet of water near an area designated as a "hazardous stream."
While setting up to tow the 27 foot ski boat to safety Andiamo received a second call for help. Again, a cell phone was used to verify the vessel's position and condition. Four people and three dogs were on board a 25 foot disabled ski boat in an area known as Bermuda Flats in the middle of the lake. With the first disabled ski boat in tow Andiamo proceeded to the rescue of the second boat. After rigging a tow line from the first disabled boat to the second disabled boat Andiamo towed the "train" of boats about 12 miles to safety.
Coast Guard Auxiliary member Tom Nunes, the coxswain and owner of Andiamo noted that "while cell phones helped in these rescues and everyone was fine, the Coast Guard Auxiliary recommends that people who operate boats on our inland lakes and coastal areas have an operating VHF-FM radio on board in case they get in trouble." The Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary and all mariners with a VHF-FM radio are required to monitor Channel 16, the International calling and distress frequency.
On another lake in Arizona, the Coast Guard Auxiliary Rescue Boat Happy Wanderer received a call from Arizona Fish and Game about a disabled boat taking on water near a beach on Canyon Lake. The Happy Wanderer arrived to the rescue of the disabled boat only to find the owner bailing the boat out with an ice cooler - that was promptly replaced with an electric pump courtesy of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. After some discussion this boat was also towed to safety.
Disabled "train" of boats being towed by the Coast Guard Auxiliary Rescue Boat Andiamo on Arizona's Roosevelt Lake over the holiday weekend. (U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Photo)
About 1450 miles away the Coast Guard Auxiliary assisted and saved over 1.5 million dollars in recreational boats while patrolling at Wanapum Lake, Washington during the holiday weekend:
The Coast Guard Auxiliary located a boat dead in the water after striking a submerged object and taking on water at approximately 20 gallons per minute. The $500,000 jet boat was taken into side tow and three electric pumps were rigged to combat the rapid flooding.
Joe Malick, the vessel's owner, was transported by the Grant County Sheriff's Department to the boat launch to prepare his trailer to receive the damaged vessel. The vessel was then returned safely to the boat launch and removed from the water. "The vessel would have capsized in minutes," said Malick. Over the holiday weekend several other high value vessels were assisted by the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Wanapum Lake is a popular vacation area for recreational boating and camping on holiday weekends. Boaters are reminded that Wanapum Lake is fed by the Columbia River. Its waters are about 50 degrees even on hot summer days, and life jackets greatly increase your odds of survival in the event of cold water immersion.