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Posted by on Sep 18, 2011 in Boat Maintenance, Safety and Seamanship, UK, US, Wakeboard Boat |

Search and Rescue: Lake of the Ozarks

The Boats.com video boat review team makes a daring rescue!

The fact that Search and Rescue operations would take place on this day was a given: a furious wind ripped the water apart at the seams, as 30- to 40-knot gusts twisted the surface. A line of squalls—just one of many created during the recent violent weather—shredded its way across the water, creating water spouts and throwing spray hundreds of feet in the air.

At least, that’s what was happening out in the Atlantic. Nearly 1,000 miles inland, we were enjoying a picture-perfect day on the Lake of the Ozarks.

Boats.com Vice-Admiral John Burnham struggles to maintain control over the boat, as Rescue Specialist Paul Cronin maintains a grip on the tow line with sheer willpower.     Boats.com Vice-Admiral John Burnham struggles to maintain control over the boat, as Rescue Specialist Paul Cronin maintains a grip on the tow line with sheer willpower.

Boats.com Vice-Admiral John Burnham struggles to maintain control over the boat, as Rescue Specialist Paul Cronin maintains a grip on the tow line with sheer willpower.

Yet in spite of our pleasant location, I spotted a fellow mariner in need of rescue. A lone soul stood on the deck of a twenty-one foot runabout about 100 yards away from us, holding up a throw-cushion with the words “HELP PLEASE” emblazoned in red.

I sprang into action. Turning towards the vessel in distress, I slammed down the throttle on my 17’ Lowe Stinger bass boat and the RPMs jumped to 1,500. With a white-knuckled death-grip I held onto the steering wheel for dear life as my small aluminum craft careened from six-inch wave to six-inch wave at a blistering 7.2 MPH. Drawing near the victim, I could see from the deceivingly placid look on his face that he was scared half to death, and was probably about to go into cardiac arrest! As I approached I calmed him down,  calling out “Never fear, Boats.com is here.”

As it turned out, this poor gent had started his boat for the first time of the spring, putted a solid 200 feet from his dock, and lost power. Now, he was adrift in the lake with no food, water, medical supplies, or hope—until we arrived.

Boats.com video-review director/producer/Vice-Admiral John Burnham and videographer/cameraman/Rescue-Specialist Paul Cronin, floating next to me on the Lowe Frontier Jon boat they’d been using as a camera platform, rigged a tow line as I remained on station, ready to render medical assistance or pull a MOB out of the water at any moment.

They had just cast the tow line to the boat in distress when all hell suddenly broke loose. Sort of. John and Paul discovered there were no stern cleats of sufficient size for towing on their boat. In an amazing flash of ingenuity, Paul grasped the tow line with his bare hands and leaned back as John applied power, the outboard roaring like an unleashed banshee, until both boats began surging forward at an eye-watering crawl. Paul’s biceps rippled in the blazing 68-degree sun and sweat dripped off his creased brow, as his palpable determination alone linked the two craft together.

I shadowed the Boats.com rescue team and the stricken vessel for the longest two minutes of my life, as we desperately made our way toward shore. Finally, breathing great sighs of relief, we reached the dock. A cheer went up from the victim, who then thanked us profusely for our heroic actions—which will surely go down in the annals of Boats.com history as one of the most epic and courageous video boat review events of all time.

Editor’s Note: For more information, check out our video boat reviews

-Lenny Rudow