Coast Guard retrieves boats adrift on Portage

DOLLAR BAY – With waves and wind growing stronger as summer ends, the U.S. Coast Guard is asking boat owners to make sure their boats are secure.

Officers from Coast Guard Station Portage in Dollar Bay had to chase down two unsecured boats within a 24-hour period on Portage Lake this weekend.

About 8 p.m. Saturday night, the Coast Guard responded to an adrift boat that had washed up on Harrington Island in the Portage Lake Shipping Canal. The Coast Guard brought it back to the station and eventually got in touch with the owner, who retrieved it.

The next incident came about 12:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon, when the Coast Guard tracked down a sailboat at the west end of Portage Lake. The sailboat had been loose for about half an hour, its owner estimated.

“The wind kicked up, and it kicked it loose from the mooring buoy it was attached to,” said Petty Officer First Class Joseph Fuller.

When the Coast Guard can’t confirm a boat is unoccupied, it starts searching the water for passengers, which can last for a couple of hours, said Petty Officer First Class Thomas Johnson.

Boat owners should make sure their attachment hardware is working and check to see if their mooring lines are weathered or weakened.

“We really stress the owners take the time to make sure the boats are tied up so we don’t unnecessarily deploy Coast Guard resources chasing boats that are drifting out there,” Johnson said. “That can mean a delay for response to an actual situation where someone’s life is in danger.”