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  #1  
Old 10-25-2007
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Another Lake Michigan Tragedy

Three men were killed last night on thier way to drydock.
This one hit close to home as they sailed out of my old home port.

One of my buddies was with them just before it happened.
He too was sailing to Crowley's Yard to be hauled.
The J105 decided to followed him but he took a route that would take him further offshore.

My friend said that he belives that when they went to lower thier sails, that somebody fell overboard. After that in the confusion, they hit the break wall. It was blowing close to a gale here yesterday.

Details in the news are kind of sketchy.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/6...102507.article

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...i_tab01_layout
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My condolences to the friends and family of the victims, and to the boat .

Yet another entirely preventable accident. I don't know how experienced this crew of four was, individually or as a crew, but ISTM taking a 20' boat out, in the dark, in up to 9 foot (nearly 3 meter) seas, with small craft warnings and a gale force advisory in effect, exhibited poor judgement.

It's one thing to be on a cruise or in the middle of a race and encounter such conditions unexpectedly. But to deliberately set out in such conditions?

It will be of interest to find out whether the crew were all wearing appropriate gear (foul weather, PFD, harness).

Jim
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Old 10-25-2007
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Details seem to be varied between the two reports. One says men in their 20s & 30s, the other says a 50-something, 40-something, 30-something and nothing on the fourth man's age.

I'm willing to bet the survivor was one of the people wearing a PFD. Hypothermia was probably a big issue, and a PFD helps the body core retain heat.

My main question is what the hell were they doing so close to a lee shore???

I'd also have to ask why they went out in such a small boat with the conditions reported. Even 4-6' seas can be very treacherous for a 20' boat—much less the nine-footers reported. Certainly doing so later in the day, when the days are as short as they are now... is foolhardy at best. Also, IMHO, full foul weather and safety gear should have been mandatory under such conditions. Granted, a lot of the time I'm out in 4-6' seas, no one on my boat is wearing a harness, but my boat handles those conditions far better than a 20' monohull—as my boat has an 18' beam.
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Last edited by sailingdog; 10-25-2007 at 09:11 AM.
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Old 10-25-2007
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Condolences to them and their families. Killed in their twenties... right in some of the best years of their lives.

- B
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Old 10-25-2007
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Every year it seems that a handful of Chicago boaters get into trouble taking their boats down the Crowley's (there was a rescue last season in October I recall) but this is perhaps the most deadly incident I can remember in many years.

If it was a J105, this is obviously a larger and safer boat than indicated in the article (20' is a non-starter since it was probably 7-9 last night blowing 30kts). A J105 can clearly handle those conditions so the MOB incident might have led to the disaster. My guess is this boat sailed in the Mac if it is part of the J105 fleet here.

What harbor were they out of? There is a J105 in Burnham where I dock, but I think they were laid up already for the season.
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Yes, they were killed, but IMHO, it was quite possibly self-inflicted death....given the size of the boat, the fact that there were clear indications that the weather was dangerous enough to consider as a factor in deciding to set sail, and the seeming lack of safety equipment used. I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for stupidity in general. Whoever made the decision to go out in those conditions on that particular boat is at fault.

Near gale winds, relatively high waves, sailing along a lee shore, in a relatively small boat... hmm... recipe for disaster and Darwin Awards coming right up.

I do feel sorry for their families though.

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Originally Posted by Cruisingdad View Post
Condolences to them and their families. Killed in their twenties... right in some of the best years of their lives.

- B
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Last edited by sailingdog; 10-25-2007 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 10-25-2007
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Isn't a J-105 around 30'? I'm wondering if the skip went MOB and the crew lost situational awareness while attempting the recovery in very bad conditions.

edit: Ok, the 105 wasn't in the accident, only the little boat. Jeesh, that'd be like me taking the V-21 out in crap like that. Having been in that stuff in my 39 footer, there's no freakin way you'd catch me out in that with the little boat on purpose.

Last edited by CharlieCobra; 10-25-2007 at 10:59 AM.
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Think the news stories mentioned it was S/V "Jason", a J/35. That is a good offshore boat.
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the news article described it as a 20' boat, but also as a J-35. The latter is 35', and a solid boat.

The J-105 mentioned in the first post is poster's friend's boat, not the casualty boat.

A 20-footer in 30 knots and 7-9' seas? Yes, Darwin award for going out. A J-35, with another J-105 also making the same run? I'd want to know more before opining about their decisions. Once one crew goes overboard (I know, should've had harnesses), things can go downhill fast, you can't get away from the lee shore and leave him, and everything snowballs.

Tragic.
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Old 10-25-2007
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They just updated the news story. There's also a video report at this link.

Quote:
3 Lake Michigan boaters die

By Jason Meisner, Dan P. Blake and Jeremy Gorner

Tribune staff reporters

11:52 AM CDT, October 25, 2007

<****** language=JavaScript src="http://ad.doubleclick.net/adj/trb.chicagotribune/news/local;tk=10039;tk=10059;tk=10075;tk=10077;tk=10080 ;tk=10085;tk=10086;tk=10098;tk=10102;tk=10103;tk=1 0107;tk=10115;tk=10128;tk=10232;tk=10260;tk=10321; tk=10419;tk=10423;tk=10490;tk=10508;tk=10512;tk=10 553;tk=10567;tk=10604;tk=10607;tk=10691;tk=10797;t k=10953;tk=11070;tk=11186;tk=11268;tk=11284;tk=112 94;tk=11382;tk=11452;tk=11467;tk=11753;tk=12340;tk =12375;tk=12525;tk=12583;ptype=ps;slug=chi-boatdeaths25_weboct26;rg=r;zc=60613;ref=chicagotri bunecom;pos=1;dcopt=ist;sz=300x250;tile=1;ord=1562 8434?" type=text/javascript><****** src="http://m1.2mdn.net/879366/flashwrite_1_2.js">
Sailors were trying to rescue a friend who had gone overboard in 10-foot waves when their boat smashed into a breakwater in Lake Michigan, leaving three dead, a Coast Guard official said today.

The four men were part of an "experienced crew" who were moving the approximately 25-foot sailboat from Monroe Harbor in Chicago to a boating yard in Northwest Indiana, where it was going to be taken out of the water for the winter, Boatman's Mate Michael Arnold said.

About 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, the boat was motoring in rough conditions about a mile and a half off of 95th Street when one of the men fell overboard, Arnold said. The others notified the Coast Guard and circled the boat around to try to rescue their friend, but waves as high as 10 feet began pushing the boat into the breakwall, he said.

"The weather pushed them into the wall and the boat broke up," Arnold said. "It happened very fast."

Arnold said Coast Guard boats arrived and called for a Chicago Fire Department helicopter, divers and Chicago police boats. Rescuers were hampered by darkness, high winds and waves but were able to locate the men at various points along the rock wall, including the man who had fallen overboard and apparently washed up there, he said. They were all wearing life jackets, he said.

The men may have been in the water for as long as 45 minutes, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.

Two of the men, one of them believed to be in his 50s and the other believed to be in his 40s, were pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to a spokesman for the Cook County medical examiner's office. The third man, estimated to be in his 30s, was pronounced dead at Chicago's Advocate Trinity Hospital, an office spokesman said.

The survivor, 34, was treated at Advocate Trinity and released, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Arnold said two of the men were from the Chicago area and two were from out of town. Their identities were not being released this morning pending the notification of family, he said.

The boat broke into several pieces, Arnold said. "We found a 5-foot section of the bow, but we're still looking for the rest," he said.

The accident occurred just a few hours after the National Weather Service issued a small craft warning, reporting waves over 9 feet in the middle of the lake with wind gusts up to 35 knots, said meteorologist Tim Halbach.

"The waves are big enough for whitecaps out here," Langford said from the lakefront at 95th Street. "One of the guys [a Fire Department diver who had been dropped from a helicopter to rescue one of the men] said it was the most difficult rescue he's ever seen."
The question still remains why they were out in that mess. Granted, perhaps the small craft advisory was announced after they had already launched, but those conditions didnt come up out of nowhere: there had to be gale conditions and high wave heights brewing before they even left.

Obviously, if they were motoring they knew it was too windy to sail safely and they probably were trying to get to Crowley's as fast as possible.

Looks like what doomed them was when they stopped near the breakwater to pick up their friend. Your first instinct is to conduct your MOB drill and go back for your buddy, but a smarter move mightve been to just call the coast guard (which is less than an eighth of a mile away from where they wrecked) and hope your friend can cling to the breakwater until they get there.

What would you guys have done if you found yourself in this situation? I mean, yeah, (A) we all would've checked the weather report and just rescheduled the boat delivery for another day. But, what if you launched in what seemed like manageable conditions based on your experience, and then things go pear-shaped and one of your crew goes overboard in worsening conditions, near a lee shore?

---

And it's still a little choppy today (see this video):

Heavy waves persist at breakwater off 95th Street the day after deadly accident Video

Last edited by ChicagoNewport27; 10-25-2007 at 01:53 PM.
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