No one injured as boat goes over spillway

Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Jennings Tow & Repair gets an aluminum Lund boat out of the water near the spillway between Big Spirit Lake and East Lake Okoboji. Currents are especially strong in current high waters, so boats are urged to use caution. (Photo submitted)

No one was injured after a Lund fishing boat went over the spillway between Big Spirit and East Okoboji before 8 a.m. Wednesday, July 4.

Underwater Solutions co-owner Mark Petersen was in the area as the boat operator received assistance.

"What happened was the gentleman put his boat in off the trailer and his primary motor didn't start, his kicker motor didn't start and by then the current had him and just took him right over the edge of the spillway there," Petersen said. "Luckily, there was a fisherman on the beach side. The boater was able to get a rope from him. He used a railing to tie it off real quick before he went any farther down."

Petersen then contacted Jennings Tow & Repair and Joe Jennings was able to pull the boat out of the water.

"I just looked at it and knew, probably, the safest and best way for the boat with minimal risk would be to lift it right over the railing," Petersen said of his decision to make the call a towing company.

Jennings was able to put the fishing boat back on the owner's trailer as part of an estimated 90-minute process.

"It has happened when the water has been high before," Petersen said. "I'm aware of a couple of watercraft that have gone over. There's so much current going into that spill area now. People need to be really, really sure and prepared for when they launch the boat there. Make sure your engines are running and warmed up."

The current could easily carry a boat into a pair of box culverts near the spillway, according to the recovery, salvage and aquatic weed specialist.

"Once you get untied from the dock there, get backed out of there as quickly as you can because there's a lot of current going right toward that corner of the spillway," Petersen said, later adding; "People don't realize there is, I believe, a four-foot elevation difference between Big Spirit Lake and East Lake."

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