ELY (AP) — A Boy Scout party was safely rescued after their two canoes capsized on a windswept and misty lake in the Boundary Water Canoe Area in far northeastern Minnesota, officials said Friday.
The air and sea rescue was completed around sunset Thursday on Basswood Lake, north of Ely. Afterward, the five Scouts, their two leaders and a local Scout guide were soggy and shaking off mild hypothermia, the Star Tribune reported.
All eight who were in the water at some point had on life jackets, and "without those, we probably would've had a very different outcome," said Justin Mayne, a captain with the Lake County Rescue Squad.
Mayne said the first call that the canoes had capsized and were missing came about 4:20 p.m. Thursday. Within a half-hour the searchers found three of the missing canoeists near Canadian Point. The other five were spotted on land just north of Washington Island another half-hour later, Mayne said.
Six of the eight were brought to safety on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service float plane, and the other two by boat, Mayne said. The rescue operation wrapped up about 9 p.m. All eight were checked out at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital.
"They were doing fairly well," said Mayne, adding that both canoes were recovered. "They were in good spirits. Obviously, a little wet."
Mayne said rough waters made it crucial to keep the canoe bow pointed straight ahead.
"The wind was really kicking up," Mayne said. "In certain areas, it was 25 to 30 miles per hour with major gusts up to 40."
The boys and their leaders were participating in a Northern Tier High Adventure Program, based in Ely and operated by the Boy Scouts of America.
"We can't thank the rescuers' efforts enough for all they did last night for a wonderful outcome," said Kevin Dowling, Northern Tier's general manager.
Dowling, who declined to say where the Scouts were from, said they were nearing the end of their five-day adventure and he was relieved to say that "everybody is OK (after) being caught in an unexpected weather situation."