The Port Huron Float Down Left One Thousand Americans Hopelessly Drifting Towards Canada This Week

ANTALYA, TURKEY - JULY 11: A man floats on a beach toy on July 11, 2016 in Antalya, Turkey. Russian President Vladimir Putin last month officially lifted travel restrictions on tourism to Turkey. Russia had banned agency tours to Turkey after a diplomatic crisis erupted when Turkey downed a Russian jet on the Turkey - Syrian border in November 2015. Turkey's tourism is currently in crisis after a series of terrorist attacks, most recently the bombing of Ataturk International Airport tourists numbers have plummeted. The tourist city of Antalya, popular with Russian and European tourists has been hit hard, in May overall visitor numbers to Turkey dropped 34.7 percent and according to figures released by Antalya airport, the number of Russian tourists had dropped 98.5 percent in June, creating one of the worst tourist seasons on record. Antalya is home to some 40,000 Russians permanently living and working in the city, with many working in the tourism sector, local businesses have have felt a ripple effect from the tourism downturn forcing job losses and business closures. The first Russian flight carrying package tourists to Turkey arrived in Antalya on July 9, 2016 bringing hope to local business and tour operators. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
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Nearly 1,500 Americans found themselves sailing toward Canada this week, caught up in fierce winds that pushed them toward their Northern neighbor. The unexpected border crossing occurred during Michigan's annual Port Huron Float Down, in which thousands of people gather to float down Lake Huron in rafts, dinghies, and inner tubes. But the strong winds, coupled with the lake's underlying current, left the participants helplessly drifting toward Canada.

This was the third Port Huron Float Down, with the previous two only ending with some wet, likely drunk Americans. But this year's thunderstorm and high winds were enough to push the participants over the border. Given that the weather conditions were "almost the worst-case scenario," Peter Garapick, superintendent of search and rescue for the Canadian Coast Guard, told The Sarnia Observer that "It's exactly what we saw coming."

But thankfully for the some 1,500 U.S. citizens who washed ashore in Sarnia, Ontario, Canadian officials were in decent spirits. The Sarnia Police, the Canadian Coast Guard on the Great Lakes, and the Canadian Red Cross came out to rescue the stranded floaters, pulling them out of the water as they reached Canadian soil. Though some feared that they would be in trouble without a passport, Canadian Customs did not process their unexpected visitors. 

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Sarnia Transit deputy director Lee Patterson told The Times Herald that he was unsure of the total cost, or who would cover the expense for the 19 transit buses it took to get the Float Down crew back stateside. 

But for what it's worth, it appeared that all of the floaters were grateful for the outcome. On the group's Facebook page said that they wanted to "express our gratitude to the Canadian Authorities for their assistance and understanding with the floaters who've unintentionally been forced to the Canadian shoreline. You've shown us true kindness and what it means to be amazing neighbors!"

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