Excerpted from a MSUE spotlight article:

On August 11, the education vessel the Clinton carried passengers enjoying the Bob-lo Island Summer Discovery Cruise. Retired MSU Extension educator Patrick Livingston who narrates the Bob-lo Island Cruise along with Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator/Summer Discovery Cruise Director Steve Stewart and Extension program workers Elizabeth Nebel and Jenna Roy were on board while Captain Norm Raymond piloted the ship.

During the cruise, the Coast Guard Radio broadcasted a Mayday distress call regarding a personal watercraft going in circles with nobody on board. Anyone stranded in the water that day would be in trouble. The air temperature at 71 degrees and a wind speed of 11 mph created conditions for cold water and waves a foot high.

The captain soon spotted two people clinging to a buoy. As the Clinton approached the buoy, one of the people began to swim toward the boat and climbed the boarding ladder staff had deployed. The staff assisted the shivering teenager to a seat. He explained that he and his father had been on a Jet Ski and the choppy waves threw them off. The current took the Jet Ski into the lake and they could not safely attempt to retrieve it, choosing instead to cling to the buoy. He thought they had been in the water approximately 45 minutes. Fortunately, both he and his father were wearing personal flotation devices.

A Canadian Coast Guard vessel soon followed, getting the father out of the water and then taking aboard the son. The Coast Guard vessel then went to retrieve the Jet Ski and the Summer Discovery Cruise continued.

After the cruise, the boat staff reflected on the rescue, the need for safety aboard any vessel regardless of size and the fact that safety training each season — including man-overboard drills — had prepared them to act quickly, calmly and effectively. They acted so calmly that one participant wrote on the cruise evaluation form: “We especially enjoyed the rescue re-enactment – well done!”

“While we don’t promise excitement of this magnitude on every Summer Discovery Cruise, we can promise that participants will have a unique learning experience,” said MSG’s Steve Stewart.


About Summer Discovery Cruises

During the summer, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant and the Huron-Clinton Metroparks collaborate to offer educational cruises to the public on Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and Lake Erie. The Summer Discovery Cruises (SDC) allow participants to learn about various aspects of these bodies of water depending on the cruise theme — and there are more than 20 themes to choose from. Rescue is not one of them.