Patrick Fowler heads Petersburg Search and Rescue and responded that evening.
“I don’t know exactly what the issues were but they were unable to get their main motor started and operated for some time on the kicker, but my understanding is that failed too at some point,” Fowler said.
Fowler said one of the two men onboard sent his wife a text with GPS point sharing their location before they lost service. She called the police, who notified the Coast Guard and Search and Rescue. The Coast Guard sent a vessel to respond and asked the local volunteer team to help. Fowler and one other volunteer set off to find the men around 8 o’clock.
“Our crew, when they initially got to the last known point, the vessel wasn’t there,” Fowler said. “But after a short search along the coast we were able to spot the two men and their vessel on the beach.”
The men had managed to drift to shore, where Fowler said they were preparing to spend the night. He said Search and Rescue picked them up around 9, and it took about two hours to tow the boat back to Green Rocks Lodge, where the men were staying. The boaters as well as Search and Rescue tried to call the lodge but there was no response, according to Fowler. He said there is a lesson in all of this for anyone going out on the water.
“This is a good example of having a VHF radio to be able to call for assistance for other vessels in the area, and also to make a float plan with friends and family that describes what you’re doing and where you’re going and when you’ll be back,” Fowler said.
Tim Harper owns the lodge and the boat that malfunctioned. He said there was a VHF radio on board, and while it was evident once they returned that the main motor’s starter was having issues, the kicker, or back-up motor, should have worked. He confirmed that the boaters attempted to call his cell phone, and said the phone was charging during the episode. According to Harper, the two guests have stayed at his lodge before.