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Wind Shift Causes Boat To Crash With Aerial Lift Bridge

May 18, 2018 09:06AM ● Published by Editor

Boats out on Lake Superior for sailboat races were hit with a surprise when the brisk weather change pushed a sailboat to the Aerial Lift Bridge, causing the de-masting of the boat Wednesday.

The boat involved was a member of the Duluth Yacht Club's racing fleet.

No one was injured. The incident happened around 5:40 p.m.

Boats out on Lake Superior for sailboat races were hit with a surprise when the brisk weather change pushed a sailboat to the Aerial Lift Bridge, causing the de-masting of the boat Wednesday.

Within minutes, the wind increased from 10 to 25 miles per hour.

Richard Gatje, the U.S. Coast Guard petty officer, said safety is something important to keep in mind when you're out on the lake.

"When it's 15 to 20 knots, the winds are going to start picking up and the sea is going to get choppy. Once you hit around 25 knots, you'll start getting small craft advisories and that's when its really starting to get dangerous for small boats to be out," Gatje said.

The weather dropped from 80 to 40 degrees within the hour on Wednesday.

The Duluth Yacht Club released a statement saying, "The DYC views this as a serious incident and is currently undertaking an inquiry into the specific cause of the collision."


 

"Make sure you have all your safety gear on board like fire extinguishers and life jackets. If you're going to go out on a boat, especially on weather like this, wear your life jacket," Gatje said.

Hypothermia is also a danger with the cold water.

"Having a safety plan is great. Knowing where all your gear is at is also good in case something does happen. Having a radio, knowing who to contact, contacting us, or just making sure you have a good plan," Gatje said.

Letting someone know where you'll be and what time you plan on coming home is also something to keep in mind.

"As long as there is no injury, stay calm. Make sure your life jackets are on and have a coast guard on channel 16 right away. We can get out there and help with however we can," Gatje said.

At the time of the incident, it was too late for the bridge to be lifted and the operator was not informed about how close the boat was.

If you run into an emergency, and need coast guard assistance, use: VHF-FM Channel 16 (156.8 MHz), dial 911, or call the nearest coast guard unit.

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