Bulk carrier crew rescues Lake Michigan boater

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(MILWAUKEE) —The motor vessel Joseph L. Block responded to a distress call and rescued a boater out of Lake Michigan’s waters Monday morning after the boater’s 28-foot vessel began to sink 10 miles off of Port Washington, Wis.  

The man's name is not being released by the Coast Guard.

Search-and-rescue coordinators at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan, in Milwaukee, received a distress call just before 8:30 a.m. Monday that a vessel was taking on water 10 miles east of the Port Washington pier heads. The Coast Guard launched a crew aboard a 45-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station Sheboygan, Wis., and a helicopter crew aboard a Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Facility Waukegan, Ill., to respond.

The motor vessel Joseph L. Block, a 728-foot ship owned by Central Marine Logistics, was underway in the area and quickly diverted to assist the boater. The crew located the sinking vessel and found the boater in the water, wearing a life jacket and waving his arms. The crewmembers reacted quickly and were able to throw heaving lines to the person, hoisting him up out of the water and safely onto their ship.

The water temperature at the time of the rescue was 49 degrees.

Coast Guard Station Sheboygan's rescue boat arrived on scene, along with an Ozaukee County Marine boat, to transport the boater off of the Joseph L. Block to the Port Washington Municipal Marina to be evaluated by emergency medical services.

“The Coast Guard would like to remind all boaters of the importance of always wearing a life jacket while out on the water. According to a 2014 statistic, 84 percent of all drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket,” said Cmdr. Leanne Lusk, the chief of response at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan.

The 28-foot vessel was towed by the Ozaukee County Sheriff's crew toward the municipal marina until the flooding outpaced the dewatering pump. Station Sheboygan's crew responded to the scene to supply an additional pump when it was determined the sinking craft had become unstable.

The crew evacuated the sheriff's deputy who was on board and the vessel sank immediately after the tow was released approximately 8 nautical miles east of the Port Washington pier heads in more than 350 feet of water.

The Station Sheboygan crew recovered several items that had floated free of the vessel, but reported no visible pollution.

By Professional Mariner Staff