Adrift off Ludington
When the wind is blowing and the waves are rolling, it’s not a
time to worry about money. Especially if your motor has just revved
up and your propeller has stopped turning. Especially if you are 6
miles offshore of Ludington and the forecast is for the 3-foot
waves to become 4-, 5- or 6-footers as the morning progresses.
Worry about getting your butts (and the boat) back to shore.
I didn’t worry about the money because both my boat insurance
policy and my BoatU.S. membership include towing insurance.
First things first, however.
My first radio transmission was to the Ludington Coast Guard
Station to alert them of my problem and location. Next, I
cell-phoned the 24-hour dispatch number at BoatU.S. to see if they
had a cooperating tow boat nearby. The closest was docked at
Manistee. My GPS showed the pierheads at Manistee to be 37 miles. I
asked the BoatU.S. dispatcher to stand by.
By now, the Coast Guard had contacted two towboat operators from
Ludington and were awaiting return calls as to availability. We
weren’t in danger, but we were not much closer to being
A half hour later, the wind had freshened and the 2- to 3-foot
waves were 3- to 5 footers. I called the Coast Guard and advised
them the waves were building, we were still in little danger and
asked if they’d made any progress. In a few minutes the Coast Guard
called back and told us they would come to tow us. I called the
BoatU.S. dispatch service and advised them we were not going to
need their service.
Once the Coast Guard boat found us – again using GPS as well as
visual information – we were soon hooked up and underway. Back at
the dock, the USCG checked my boat’s paperwork, my identification
and the safety gear on board. We passed, but it was the end of the
fishing on my boat for the week.
The important thing to remember is Murphy’s Law, which simply says,
stuff happens, so be prepared.
We had cell phones, VHF radio and navigation equipment. I also had
insurance and adequate safety gear on the boat. Now if I’d only
brought a spare lower unit, we’d have salvaged the trip.