A daring broken-ice rescue

Sometimes, despite taking all reasonable precautions, a boater gets in trouble and must rely on rescue services.

Other times – like yesterday – you find folks who are just asking for trouble.

Lesson 1a: If you are in a canoe, in Canada, during ice break-up, in April, on Lake Ontario, do not go into areas where you might become trapped.

Lesson 1b: Do not go canoeing during ice break-up.

Lesson 2: Ice moves. It will close off the passage you just came through.

Lesson 3: Yelling "It's OK, we're all right" across the water when you're in trouble does not magically make it all right.

Between me getting on the line with the Coast Guard Radio operator (*16 from any Canadian cellphone) and someone else on the line with the Kingston Fire Department, enough emergency workers were rounded up to mount a rescue effort. Out comes the banana boat (a specialized inflatable ice-rescue raft) for a long and very difficult slog out through the broken ice.

They're out of earshot by this point, but from what little chatter we heard on the land-side crew's radios, the firefighters were attempting to convince the canoeists that yes, they really did need to be rescued.

Lesson 4: If two guys in survival suits and an ice-rescue boat say you need to be rescued, NOW, do not argue with them.

The crew transfer begins....

A gang of firefighters on shore then hauled both boats back to land with a tow rope.

Disembarking. (Note the outfit of the third canoeist. Also note that the air is about five degrees Celsius at this time, and the liquid part of the water is around 1 C.)

Lesson 5: Hypothermia. Look it up.

Shortly after one of the canoeists yelled "I'm not the one who called, asshole!" at a bystander who had offered a few choice words about the predicament, Kingston's Finest were observed politely inviting the canoe's occupants to afternoon tea at the country club. Or something like that.




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