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Can you solve the Mystery???

Mystery!.......It was just before sunrise when my phone unexpectedly rang. Dark thoughts run through your head in the instant it takes to find and answer. Early morning calls are rarely good news and this proved to be no exception. The familiar voice precluded introductions,....”Get right to the point quickly,” I thought.

The voice was terse." Doc, we've got a boat aground on Steele's Point. I don't see anyone around, but the lights and radio are on. I'm going aboard to see if anyone is hurt. You're my backup."

As I was lacing my boots, I was running the list. What might be needed; cell phone, hand-held VHF, flashlight, warm hat and gloves.

A quick trip to shore followed. The situation was as described. An I-O bow-rider with the propeller ground to a hub, lights on, radio playing a local station, engine off, but still warm. No sign of the occupants. We notified 911, concerned over the obvious damage to the boat, and the missing person/s.

Soon the area was alive with early-rising first-responders.

. . . EMS was disregarded, since there was no apparent injury or health hazard.

. . . Fire service also returned to quarters to await further developments.

. . . Land-based law enforcement agencies coordinated their investigations; tracing registration numbers, looking for witnesses, interviewing the neighbors, and looking for anyone trying to get out of town.

. . . US Coast Guard initiated the water search for persons or evidence in the River or along the shorelines of the islands. Because the boat was registered in Canada, authorities, there, were enlisted to help find the owner and last known location of the boat.

. . . Canadian Coast Guard responded vigorously, sending the cutter, Cape Herne from Kingston and a rescue helicopter from the Rescue Coordination Center in Trenton, Ontario to assist in the search.

As far as I know, nothing of interest was found.

At about this time it became apparent that the vessel had been stolen from a marina in the Gananoque area.

So here's the deal: Some person/s committed theft in Canada, left under the cover of darkness, breached our security  measures, and entered the US illegally. They also left the scene of a boating incident in the US. They cost the taxpayers on both sides of the border, and raised our level of uneasiness. They seem to have just disappeared.

I'll let you, the readers, write the conclusion. Feel free to use your imaginations.

  • Was it a wayward teen who "borrowed" a boat with the keys in it for a joy ride?
  • How about an abused or disenchanted spouse looking to start a new life in a new country?
  • Maybe someone illegally in Canada who felt the need to keep moving without leaving much of a trail?
  • Perhaps someone who had a plan to enter the US quietly to accomplish some devious activity?

You get the idea. I was reluctant to write about this as it is still a fresh event. I have told nothing that is not already common knowledge in the media. My purpose is to help make you aware of the vigor with which the authorities respond to such events, to applaud their efforts, to encourage the cross-border cooperation that is needed to keep us safe, and to re-emphasize that they cannot fully do their job without the help of the folks who live and work along the River.

You have heard it before so here it is again, “If you see something, say something".

By Dr. Richard Withington

Dr. Richard Withington is a retired Orthopaedic Surgeon, living out a childhood dream spending his winters alone at the head of Round  Island. The Withingtons close their cottage known as  "Rivercroft" in October and Dick moves into the former servants' quarters, "Wintercroft".  His old but faithful Siberian Husky, Stormy. and a rescued Siamese cat Mylie keep him company.  His boat, also called Stormy is ready for action, no matter the weather.   The Sheriff's office will call him directly if and when there is a problem.  This is his fifth article for TI Life.

Posted in: News Article
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Michael Joyce
Comment by: Michael Joyce ( )
Left at: 10:14 PM Monday, November 14, 2011
I think this mystery can be solved using the process of elimination. My first thought was that some Canadian was sneaking into the US, and then I thought wait a second, the economy is better in Canada, the politics are better in Canada, and the health care system is better in Canada so I realized no Canadian with a brain would sneak into the US right now. My second thought was that it could be a terrorist, and then I realized terrorists are much better trained for their mission and they would not make an obvious mistake like this. Then I thought of all the great Irish jokes I had heard that started with something like, “Two drunks walk out of a bar in Gananoque….” and I thought maybe we should see if any strangers showed up that night at the Lost Navigator bar on James Street.
Louise Ford
Comment by: Louise Ford ( )
Left at: 5:20 AM Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I tend to agree with the conclusion of Mr Joyce above. There are two rather obvious reasons why the driver/joy riders don't come forward.. 1st they broke the law and 2nd they were probably drunk which caused them to break the law.

And as far as the mystery of what happened to him/her/them...Just before sunrise and the engine was still warm.

An early bird fisherman saw the accident and scooped them up and took them where ever they asked to go.. back to Canada for the health care no doubt... Chances are good that the fisherman was probably not from this area and never heard any of the scuttle about it because he is home in PA. Or it is even possible that someone on their way to work (like many who live on Grindstone Island ) took the person to the mainland and never gave it a second thought.

If I picked someone up and dropped them off ... wherever I would assume that the person would deal with their own boat wreck problems .. Particularly if I was rushing to get to work.

The chances of it being a terrorist is slim to none ! And no Canadian's would want to come to the USA right now UNLESS they were ALREADY criminals on the run and this way avoided the Mountie's !

I am sure the true tale will be told in the Navigator one night and if not ..... was it Halloween?
GJ Lewis
Comment by: GJ Lewis ( )
Left at: 12:44 PM Tuesday, November 15, 2011
It's nice that the level of law enforcement response is up a bit. Several years ago, this could have been our boat. Stolen from Wellesley, outboard removed, left to drift in Canada. At this time, the OPP were notified by the folks who found the boat, and they, in turn, told the NYS Police that a boat with NYS registration had been recovered. Unfortunately, no one made any effort to contact us, and only after we thought to call the OPP did we manage to recover our boat. So, it sounds like the communication and cooperation between law enforcement agencies across the border has improved quite a lot!
Don & Pat Pickworth
Comment by: Don & Pat Pickworth ( )
Left at: 6:39 PM Tuesday, November 15, 2011
This looks like a much-needed project for Clayton. Like other posters, we have experienced the problem of no place for visitors to stay. A successful high-end destination resort will spawn other complementary businesses along the waterfront. Agree that the design needs tweaking, needs to have a unique river flavor. Let's see this happen!