Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rescue at Sea

The waters of Lake Michigan can be especially cold in the month of May. If they get warm at all, it’s usually in July and August. It depends upon the prevalent wind direction. Surface water temperatures of over 68 degrees are rare before late June.

The month of May in 1981 was colder then normal. We were wearing jackets while sitting in the cockpit of the Valiant. There was a zesty breeze and the sail was, as the Captain would say, invigorating. It was a Sunday afternoon and we had sailed to the “Crib Line” and then plotted a course to Navy Pier.

The Captain decided that we should head back to the harbor and to eat snacks and drink liquid libations. The crew was in total agreement with this proposition. We were all shivering and hungry.

As we headed back into Burnham Park Harbor, we noticed a school of small sailboats coming out of the harbor. These were of the 14 to 16 foot variety. The Captain mentioned that it was a great way to learn how to sail. The Park District gave classes and allowed people to take these small sailboats out for a very low fee.

All of a sudden the wind picked up and it was gusting. We had already dropped sail as we were nearing Miggs Field towards the harbor’s mouth at McCormick Place.

One of the small boats, which a young man and woman were sailing, got knocked down and had overturned in the water; keel up. They were attempting to get out of the cold water and climb onto the overturned boat.

The Captain immediately called the Coast Guard on the VHF to report the incident. At this point we were about 50 feet from the capsized boat. After seeing that the occupants of this small craft were in despair, my cousin, “The Admiral”, stripped off his cloths and jumped into the frigid water. He swam to them and helped them to get onto the upturned hull.

We arrived on the scene before the Coast Guard cutter. We brought the “Admiral” and the young couple aboard the Valiant. We gave them all blankets and a shot of cheap Brandy. Surprisingly none of them suffered hypothermia.

I often wonder if they (the young couple) ever attempted to sail again!

The Beach Bum

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Admiral is a quick thinking lad,much like yourself.

Fri Nov 16, 09:05:00 AM  
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