Vessel capsizes offshore near Saxon Harbor, three lives saved

On Tuesday morning, the Coast Guard rescued three people after their vessel capsized offshore near Saxon Harbor, Wisconsin.

The Sault Sainte Marie Coast Guard command center received a mayday distress broadcast around 11:30 a.m. from a person who reported that their boat was rapidly taking on water.

The Coast Guard was able to determine the caller’s estimated position using data from the VHF radio network and immediately sent out a Response Boat from Coast Guard Station in Bayfield.

They arrived at the location within 45 minutes of the distress signal, and upon arrival, they found a capsized 25-foot vessel with three adults clinging to it. The survivors were brought on board and transported to EMS personnel who were awaiting them at Saxon Harbor.

“Thanks to the close coordination between the Coast Guard Sector, 911 dispatch, and our boat, we were able to save these people in less than an hour from when we received their mayday broadcast,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jaime Rodriguez-Ayala, Station Bayfield coxswain. “They called us angels when we pulled them out of the water, and we were just so glad we were able to get there in time.”

“This incident clearly demonstrates the importance of carrying basic lifesaving equipment like life jackets and a VHF radio on board all vessels, even when boating recreationally. Especially now that water temperatures are starting to drop down into the 50 degrees Fahrenheit range,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Edmund Foster, search and rescue mission coordinator. “Our crews were able to deploy immediately because we received a mayday over the radio. If the boaters had only a cell phone available, their call would likely have been routed to us through 911 dispatch. Even that delay of a few minutes could have resulted in a much more tragic outcome. Additionally, only one of the rescued boaters was wearing a life jacket, an essential piece of equipment for ensuring that, if the worst happens, you have the best possible chance of survival when the elements prevent you from being able to rescue yourself.”