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Duluth Fire Department Capt. Charles Smith of Engine Company Three retrieves Erik Simula's dog, Kitigan, from the water-laden canoe in the Duluth ship canal. The firefighters happened to be nearby on their way to training when the call for a canoeist in trouble came in. They assisted Simula despite their lack of life jackets. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Canoe journey hits rough water in Duluth ship canal

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A canoeist making a 1,000-mile journey was rescued by the Duluth Fire Department on Tuesday morning when his heavily laden canoe took on water in the Duluth ship canal.

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Erik Simula of Hovland was trying to enter the Duluth harbor when his birch-bark canoe began to swamp, despite the spray skirt he had rigged.

"The swells out there [on the lake] are pretty big, but you ride up and over them," he said later. "But in there [the canal] there's chop ... I just kind of filled up."

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