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When it comes to wedding engagements, the first question friends ask after the fact (other than “Did you set a date?”) is usually: “How did he do it?” That’s because to many people, the moment of engagement is as special as the wedding itself. According to The Detroit Free Press and The Goat, one man in Michigan planned an elaborate proposal for months — involving a canoe trip and a hidden note in a bottle — only for things to go not exactly as planned.

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Proposer Nathan Bluestein and then just-girlfriend May Gorial set off in a canoe in Wild Fowl Bay, a part of the Great Lake Huron, and it was supposed to be a casual and romantic outing. Bluestein pulled the secret bottle out, and inside were weathered pages containing poetry in French. Gorial, who is a French teacher, translated the mysterious pages — only to read his surprise proposal in the end. She said yes — but it wasn’t exactly a happy ending after all.

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The newly-engaged couple took photos of themselves in the canoe, but lost track of time and location; before they knew it, the canoe had strayed way off shore, with the increasingly strong winds and waves up to 5 ft. Rowing became futile, as they were pushed five miles away from where they should have been near the main shore. Fortunately, they landed on uninhabited North Island, where they were stranded — in the reach of cell phone service. They called 911.

To make a long story short, the couple is safe and sound now, and now have two more to add to the guest list: Sid Schock and Mathew Clark, the Huron County Sheriff’s Deputies that saved them and brought them back to the mainland in a patrol boat.