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Man rescued in Lake Superior after trying to "Jet Ski to Isle Royale"

Became lost in a fog bank after leaving Grand Portage, MN

July 17, 2019 - 10:18 am
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There are good ideas, and bad ideas.  This one definitely falls under the latter.  

During the evening of July 7th, a man from Alexandria, Virginia became lost on Lake Superior after trying to take a Jet Ski from Grand Portage, MN to Isle Royale according to the Duluth News Tribune.  The man, who was not named, was rescued by a Canadian Freighter after coordination with the Cook County Sheriff's Office.  He had "only a fume of gas left" after getting lost in a bank of fog.    

He was able to text and share GPS coordinates with a friend in Florida who then called the Sheriff's Office in Grand Marais.  It was the friend who lent the man his Kawasaki Jet Ski.  

Somehow, there was scant cellphone service available 22 miles south-southwest of Isle Royale and 36 miles southeast of Grand Portage.  It was also 43 miles from Ontonagon, Michigan, on the Keweenaw Peninsula.  Isle Royale, while closer to Minnesota, is technically part of Michigan. 

(Map courtesy of Google)

The U.S. Coast Guard was notified and was able to coordinate with the Canadian lake freighter Michipicoten, bound for Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.  The ship was approximately 15 miles away, and was able to re-route to the stranded man.  He was picked up at 11:43 p.m. just as a Coast Guard Helicoptor arrived out of Traverse City, Michigan.  

Luckily for the stranded rider, the weather was fair on July 7th according to the Michipicoten Captain Jonathan Barns.  

“After receiving the call, without hesitation we proceeded toward the coordinates provided by USCG", said Barns in a release sent out by the vessel's owner, Rand Logistics Inc. "The gentleman on the jet ski had managed to have cell range for only a short period to make a call to the USCG. We were assisted by a USCGdispatched helicopter. The crew did a fantastic job in preparing the deck to retrieve him, of course, not knowing the condition of the jet skier if found. The weather was fair, but moderately chilly. And, after some time, the jet skier was found in good health! Immediately USCG was informed, and it was discussed that the best course of action was to take him on the vessel to Sault Ste. Marie. At that time, we decided to retrieve his jet ski as well. This would prevent a future safety marine broadcast of an unmanned vessel if found. Once again, the crew did an amazing job retrieving the craft.”

Barnes and the Coast Guard decided to take the man aboard the Michipicoten to Sault Ste. Marie, where the man could disembark.  It arrived there on Sunday morning.  

According to the Coast Guard, the "man was lucky to have gotten a cell signal so far out into the lake."  They recommend anyone on the lake have a marine radio or satellite phone. 

It should be noted, the National Park Service does not allow personal watercraft in Isle Royale National Park.  There is ferry service available from Grand Portage.   

As most in Minnesota know, Lake Superior is not to be messed with, as the man from Virginia found out the hard way.  And a 30+ mile ride on a Jet Ski?  Not a good idea.  

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