Rescuers plucked a Minneapolis woman from a precarious strip of concrete in Duluth’s windswept Superior Bay after she became stranded there while attempting in vain to dock her sailboat.
The incident unfolded midafternoon Wednesday when the U.S. Coast Guard and numerous local agencies were called to the bay’s entry across from Superior, Wis., according to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.
On her 55th birthday, Donna L. Pugh became stranded on a breakwall after losing her sailboat, which had drifted out into the open waters of Lake Superior, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Winds out of the southwest were gusting to 40 to 45 miles per hour for much of the time she was stranded, according to the National Weather Service.
Pugh had just finished a pleasure outing on the big lake when her hand was injured while trying to tie up, causing her to lose control of her boat and leaving her atop the wall with no way to make it to safety, said Assistant Fire Chief Clint Reff.
The Fire Department sent a personal watercraft toward the breakwall to initiate Pugh’s rescue, Reff said.
“The winds were picking up,” the assistant chief said. “But that machine can handle those types of conditions pretty well.”
Pugh was helped onto the personal watercraft barely 20 minutes after authorities were alerted, and she and her two rescuers buzzed to the Fire Department’s waiting 32-foot-long enclosed watercraft, Reff said.
From there, Pugh was brought to land and taken to St. Luke’s Hospital for treatment of her hand injury. She left the hospital Thursday morning.
As for the sailboat, Reff said the Coast Guard was able to retrieve the vessel before it drifted too far into the wide-open Gitche Gumee.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482