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Jet skiers rescue boaters on Claytor

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

As so often happens in early fall, weather systems bringing cool rainy days are followed by another weather pattern brining sunny warm days that are reminiscent of summer.

Last Wednesday featured sunny skies and warm temperatures that were just right for having some fun on Claytor Lake.

Looking to take advantage of the fine weather, Daniel Bernard, a senior at Blacksburg High School and his sister Caroline Bernard, who attends Blacksburg Middle School, decided to head to Claytor Lake and take a ride on their jet ski.

Though it was midweek, Daniel and sister Caroline were not playing hooky, as school’s in both Pulaski and Montgomery counties are closed to students on Wednesdays, so that a “deep cleaning” can take place.

This being the case, Daniel and Caroline found themselves riding together on their jet ski on the clear waters of Claytor Lake during the afternoon hours of Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Then something unexpected happened at about 3 p.m.

“We saw a sail boat was flipped over and we saw a lady was on top of it,” said Daniel. “She was waving her hands and yelling. So we went over to help.”

A couple (who shall remain unnamed, as they are thoroughly embarrassed by the incident) had taken out a Sunfish sailboat and their little vessel capsized far from the shores of the Claytor Lake State Park Marina. Normally these little sailboats can be turned back over by using the keel but these inexperienced sailors were either unaware of this or unable to employ this technique.

Luckily for the sailors, brother and sister Bernard and friends of theirs, who were also riding jet skis, were in the vicinity. They were willing to help and happened to have a rope that could be attached to the temporarily disabled craft.

“We towed her in,” said Daniel. “My friend got both of them on the back of their jet ski and I hooked the sail boat up to my jet ski and just towed it in slowly.”

Even though the situation had become manageable, the fire department had been called and was on scene.

“Upon our arrival, the subjects were already out of the water,” said Newbern Fire Chief Brandon Hamblin. “Civilians had already begun to tow the boat in and we just assisted in flipping it back up. No injuries. Everybody’s on their way.”

This is one instance where restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID, namely no school on Wednesdays, worked out for the better for a couple of inexperienced sailors.

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