Frightening experience on Lake Minnetonka: 'Turn around! We're sinking'

Water had risen a foot within five minutes of launching on Saturday.
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"Turn around! We're sinking." Those are the last words anyone wants to hear while boating in the middle of a lake, but it's precisely what Bring Me The News food blogger Lindsay Guentzel heard from her boyfriend on Saturday. 

John Bjorklund and Guentzel launched a 1987 Skiff Craft – a handmade wooden boat – from Sufside Park on Lake Minnetonka and while Bjorklund, a boat mechanic at Bayside Marine in Excelsior, was checking the engine he noticed water coming in. 

At first, the rate of the incoming water didn't concern him. But about a half mile from shore with the bilge pump not putting a dent in the now-fast-rising water, Bjorklund instructed Guentzel to turn around because, as he said, "we're sinking." 

Bjorklund estimates there was at least a foot of water in the boat within five minutes. 

"John has worked on boats since he was in high school and he knew we wouldn't make it back to Surfside," said Guentzel. "So our immediate plan was to get as close to shore as possible – so if we had to get in the water, we wouldn't be out too deep."

Guentzel put out a call for help on Twitter while Bjorklund began making phone calls. 

Fortunately, they were able to beach at a home near Waterbury Road and begin saving the boat. They received help from Bjorklund's brother, who was on the lake installing docks and had a barge with a crane to lift the boat out of the water, along with a friend who met them with extra pumps to remove water from the boat. 

The cause of the leak was a split in the seam on the hull. 

"I was astonished by the people who reached out to help us," said Guentzel. "People who don't know us who saw my posts and wanted to help. Social media is the ultimate crowdsourcing and I'm always amazed by the wonderful people who reach out when help is needed."

Guentzel said their moment of "pure panic" was a reminder of how boating, while deemed a safe activity so long as social distancing guidelines are followed during the coronavirus stay-at-home order, "can go from safe to unsafe very quickly." 

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