Virginia man tries to jet ski to Isle Royale, fails

He had to be rescued after becoming stranded on Lake Superior.
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A man from Alexandria, Virginia found himself stranded in the middle of Lake Superior after trying to jet ski out to Isle Royale.

The 42-year-old set out from Grand Portage Marina, Minnesota, on Sunday, July 7, hoping to reach the island, which is technically a part of Michigan and located about 20 miles as the crow flies from Grand Portage.

But en route, the man found himself in some pretty serious trouble as he hit a fog bank and couldn't see where he was going – all the while his jet ski was running on fumes.

He couldn't get much cell service, but was eventually able to get through to a friend in Florida, who in turn called the Cook County Sheriff's Office in Grand Marais around 8:20 p.m.

The Cook County Sheriff's Office relayed the distress report to the Coast Guard and authorities in Michigan, which spread the word to ships on the lake to be on the lookout for the stranded man.

The man then made a call direct to Cook County just after 10 p.m., who said he could hear a ship's fog horn and said he was sounding his own horn.

He was able to send authorities an image of his compass that gave a better idea of his location, and it was noted there was a freight ship en route to his location that was about 15 miles out.

A search helicopter and a Coast Guard vessel had also been dispatched to look for him.

Eventually, he was picked up by the freighter, identified by the Duluth News Tribune as the Michipicoten, which found him 22 miles south-southwest of Isle Royale and 36 miles southeast of Grand Portage.

Here's roughly where he was found.

Screen Shot 2019-07-17 at 11.25.04 AM

"Lake Superior can be a wonderful resource to enjoy, whether boating, fishing or swimming, but it can also turn deadly when weather changes," Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliason told BMTN. 

"It has been my experience in 50+ years of living on its shore that watercraft, no matter the size are at the mercy of the lake and the weather patterns which emerge quickly. Everyone who recreates on the lake should always have adequate emergency gear and methods for contact when situations arise."

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