July 15, 2009
WATERBURY, VT – A 911 call for help at 10:30 p.m. on July 10th resulted in Vermont State Game Warden Robert Sterling responding to a group of four people stranded in their boat that had run aground on southern Lake Champlain.
The caller had a weak cell phone signal and was only able to relay that they only knew they were North of South Bay and stranded in the reeds with a 9 month pregnant woman on board.
Warden Sterling requested the radio dispatcher ask for any information as to lights and camps they could see. The boater said they were able to see one red light and two green lights north of them and a large lighted dock. Warden Sterling was able to determine their location due to his knowledge of Lake Champlain.
Responding from Buoy 39 Marina in Orwell, where his Vermont Fish & Wildlife boat is moored, Warden Sterling arrived at a bay just north of Red Rock Bay in Benson. The boaters, seeing the blue light from Warden Sterling’s boat, used their camera to flash a light so he was able locate them. The boat was approximately 100 feet into the reeds. A Benson First Response Team stood by in Benson in case they were needed. All persons on board were found to be OK. Warden Sterling transported the four boaters to shore in his Fish & Wildlife boat.
The boaters informed Warden Sterling that they were unfamiliar with the south end of Lake Champlain at night and that they were traveling approximately 20 mph when their boat ran aground in the reeds. They were stranded for three hours before making the 911 call and getting in touch with Vermont State Police.
“Boaters should be aware that Lake Champlain may appear very different at night than during the day,” said Sterling. “Unfamiliar boaters can find themselves aground before they realize they are not in the channel.”
Sterling also said cellular phones do not always work, so a marine FM radio should be carried by all boaters on Lake Champlain. A navigation tool such as a GPS should also be carried to relay your position if you need assistance.
Source: Department of Fish and Wildlife
Last Updated at: July 15, 2009 11:38:50