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Smoking boat engine cuts family’s fishing trip short

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:05 AM

Her husband, Mark, said they were heading out to Lake Michigan and had just reached the outside of the breakwall when the charter boat Coho started smoking.

“They started giving it throttle and it started smoking, so we turned back,” Mark Johnson said. “The captain called the Coast Guard and called the other boats on the radio. Two boats followed us in.”

“It was a lot of smoke,” said Randy Carter, captain of the Coho. “There was never any flames.”

Carter said he believed one of the water pumps quit working and the motor got hot.

“Both the bellows on the exhaust are burned right off,” he said.

Carter was able to get the 30-foot boat back into the channel where he could meet up with emergency personnel at Escanaba Park.

The Johnsons — including their son, Parker, 7; and Mark’s father, Bill Johnson — evacuated the boat while firefighters checked for any possible fire. Carter then motored back to his dock at Chinook Pier.

“Hopefully, this will only take a couple of hours to fix,” Carter said.

Kathy Johnson said part of the reason for the fishing trip was for Parker to earn a Cub Scout badge.

“I think he ought to get a really special badge for this,” she said.

Carter said he was working on getting the family out on another boat.

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