About 1,500 Americans floating down a river that separates the United States from Canada had to be rescued from the water when strong rains and winds sent them illegally into Canadian territory, the country’s coast guard said on Monday.
The Americans were taking part in the annual Port Huron Float Down on Sunday in the St. Clair River, which runs between the U.S. state of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario.
The winds blew the flotilla of inflatable rafts and inner tubes off course and toward the Canadian shore. Some rafts deflated, spurring a rescue effort by the Canadian Coast Guard as well as federal and provincial police, coast guard spokeswoman Carol Launderville said in an email.
Most “floaters” had to be rescued from the water, with many towed to shore, according to the coast guard.
“They were terrified of entering another country without documentation. No one carries their passport or any ID, and a lot were drinking alcohol,” Peter Garapick, superintendent of search and rescue for the coast guard, told CBC television.
Some tried to swim back to the United States.
“We had to pull a lot of people out of the water and say ‘no,'” Garapick said.
This brings back memories. As a young man in Arizona, tubing was a favorite (yes, we have water in Arizona, contrary to popular belief) activity. Thankfully, the danger of drifting into another country was minimal for us, as the desert on the Arizona/Mexico border is one of the driest places on the planet.
As far as places to accidentally end up when you’re drunk, Canada would likely be one of the more welcoming. The authorities there probably don’t even see that many sober people.
I may have some memories of that too, but there is only so much that needs to be shared in one blog post.