2018-07-11 / News

Port Sanilac man rescued in boating mishap

810-452-2684 •

Phillip Frankenstein, 78, of Port Sanilac was piloting his 1984 17-foot Shamrock sailboat about three miles northeast of Port Sanilac Harbor the night of June 30, when the battery powering the craft’s lights went dead.

At about 9:35 p.m., with darkness rapidly falling, Frankenstein’s vessel was spotted by a citizen on shore in the 600 block of North Lakeshore Road, who noticed the boat dead in the water with no lights on about a mile off the beach.

The unnamed citizen reported the incident to 9-1-1, informing Central Dispatch of the approximate location and that the vessel appeared to have lit a distress flare.

The Port Sanilac Fire Department responded to assist from shore in zeroing in on the sailboat’s exact location, as a patrol boat from the marine division of the Sanilac County Sheriff’s Office proceeded to the scene.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, because of the failing light, deputies aboard the patrol boat utilized a hand-held heat-sensing device called an FLIR unit to help locate Frankenstein.

The marine deputies were assisted by Richard Ball, 58, of Sandusky who was operating his pleasure boat in the area.

Frankenstein was found aboard the sailboat unhurt and wearing his life jacket. He told deputies he had a cell phone with him but the battery had gone dead. He said he had used three emergency flares before he was spotted.

The boat was towed into Port Sanilac Harbor by the patrol boat.

According to authorities, a hard wind had been blowing Saturday producing white-capped waves. The lake depth where the vessel is found is about 50 feet.

“It was a very dangerous situation,” said Sanilac County Sheriff Garry Biniecki. “Citizen involvement is always key for a safe return. We commend those that helped out.”

Biniecki added, “I want to remind people of the importance of safety. The harbors and our county parks have life jackets for people to use free if they need them. All they have to do is return them when they are through.

“Also, boaters need to do safety checks before going out. Are your batteries up? Do you have a spare battery? Is your cell phone fully charged? Do you have a means of recharging it? Is your fuel good? Do you have a working fire extinguisher? Do you have the proper emergency equipment?

Biniecki continued, “Every boater should file a float plan. Tell someone where you are putting out from and where you are going and when you are expecting to return. That way if something goes wrong, we know where to start looking for you. The plan should include a description of your craft and a list of everyone who is going with you.”

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