Lonely Planet Writer

Windy conditions blow 1500 Americans over Canadian border in raft event

The Canadian coastguard was called in to assist 1500 Americans that had accidentally crossed the border between the two countries after their rafts and inflatable rings had drifted due to strong winds.

Port Huron Float Down recsue
The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Limnos is the on-scene command vessel on the Canadian side of the River. CCGS Limnos and several Coast Guard fast rescue craft were extremely busy throughout the day as many floaters entered the water when their rafts deflated. Image by Canadian Coast Guard

The boaters were taking part in the Port Huron Float Down last weekend, an annual event and popular tradition that sees participants floating eight miles down the St. Clair River which divides Michigan state and Ontario. However, a burst of rain and high winds led to many participants drifting off course and disembarking to seek shelter ashore in Sarnia, where they were assisted by the Canada Border Services Agency, Sarnia Police and the Canadian Red Cross.

Port Huron Float Down
A storm can be seen approaching in the distance as floaters participate in the annual event. Image by Canadian Coast Guard

Crew members aboard several Canadian Coast Guard fast rescue crafts helped with lifting people out of the water throughout the day when their rafts deflated.

Port Huron Float Down
The Canadian Coast Guard issued a statement suggesting people do not take part in the event in future. Image by Canadian Coast Guard

While the event has no official organiser, a website linked to the Float Down has a list of suggestions for anyone thinking of taking part. They include oars and paddles to ensure that floaters can keep control of their vessels, whistles, sunscreen and two-way radios in case of emergency.

No injuries or missing persons were reported from the incident, although it took many hours and 19 buses to transport the cold and wet adventurists back to Michigan.