News Feature

Blue Hill
Web exclusive, May 7, 2013
Coast Guard receives distress call from group in canoes Monday night, finds group safe Tuesday a.m.

by Jessica Brophy

The Coast Guard received a mayday call Monday evening from someone near the southern tip of Long Island, in Blue Hill Bay, west of Mount Desert Island. The canoeists who made the distress call did not hear the Coast Guard attempting to contact them, and they were found safe on Tuesday morning on Long Island, according to Coast Guard spokesman Jeff Hall.

“They made a call via a handheld radio,” said Hall. “With the flood tide and heavy fog [Monday night], they had become disoriented.”

Approximately 15 minutes after making the distress call, the group located Long Island, which was its destination.

The group consisted of 25 people in 10 canoes and was part of a week-long school trip, though the name and location of the school was not released.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Northern New England in Portland received the call via VHF-channel 16 at 7:43 p.m. Monday from a male individual communicating his position, but he did not provide the nature of his distress or the name of the vessel.

A Coast Guard Station Southwest Harbor 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew was immediately launched and searched throughout the night for any vessels in distress. The crew was relieved by a 25-foot Response Boat on Tuesday morning.

According to Blue Hill Harbormaster Denny Robertson the distress call was triangulated by the Coast Guard as having come from between the southern tip of Long Island and Tinkers Island in Blue Hill Bay. He said the towns of Blue Hill and Brooklin helped with the search on Monday evening, May 6, but that thick fog hampered the efforts. Visibility was limited to 10 feet or less throughout Monday night. With clearing fog in the morning, search efforts from the Coast Guard continued.

The Coast Guard said the group in canoes is on a week-long canoe and camping trip, and plan to continue their journey.