Did 2,099 boaters (and one goose) on Suttons Bay break a world record? It's under review.

Sep 5, 2013

On Saturday, August 31, paddlers gathered in Suttons Bay, Michigan to try and break the world record for the largest number of boats touching each other in a body of water. 

I was one of those paddlers. (To see the goose, scroll through the photos above.)

The number to beat was 1,903, which was set in Inlet, New York. 

Paddlers in Suttons Bay tried to break the record last year, but came up short with only 1,750 boats. 

This year, we paddled between two motorboats as we were counted. Then we just drifted together. Planes and remote-controlled cameras flew over us, taking pictures. 

As the cameras flew, shouts echoed across the lake. "Everybody hold on to somebody!" Then, the unofficial count was announced. 2,099! Suttons Bay broke a world record!

Well -- maybe.

Right now, Suttons Bay Floatilla officials are waiting to see if we were disqualified.

After all the boats paddled together, the cluster floated around a motor boat that was moored in the bay. If any of the kayaks or canoes were touching the motor boat, we are disqualified. 

Guinness World Records officials are reviewing the materials now.

To put the number in perspective, Suttons Bay High School has less than 350 students. The village itself (Suttons Bay is too small to be a town) only has 610 residents, according to the 2010 Census. 

2,099 people might not seem like a big group to you, but it's a lot for us. And its enough to break a world record. 

In order to be counted, each boat had to register. All the money from registration fees (between $10 and $30) was donated to Suttons Bay Public Schools.

Last year, the event raised over $40,000 for the underfunded school. The school used the donations to fund field trips to Mackinac Island, Nicaragua, and Washington D.C. School clubs, like the robotics club and theater club, benefited as well. 

The night before the event, the Suttons Bay High School football team brought the majority of the boats to the Suttons Bay Marina. A local boy scout troop guarded the boats overnight. 

Being there was pretty incredible. As a lifelong resident of Leelanau County, it was nice to see so many people come out on the water for the cause. 

-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom