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Old 26-10-2007, 21:15   #1
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3 Dead in Lake Michigan

3 boaters die in Lake Michigan -- chicagotribune.com
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Old 26-10-2007, 21:59   #2
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Really sad story. How does stuff like that happen? They were experienced. They were wearing their lafejackets. It was a seaworthy boat. Thirty five knots is not all that much wind for that boat and that crew to manage. I see racers out in 35 knots all the time. It may be a one of those times where there is a sequence of bad events. It had to have been. One guy falls over another guy reacts to the first guy and he falls over. The boat is too close to the rocks to get them back on board? The guys swim for the rocks. Fourty five minutes later they are dead from hypothermia or other injuries. It really makes one wonder how the simplest and relatively safe things can go wrong.
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Old 28-10-2007, 09:01   #3
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How did it happen? Poor judgement, no life lines, 9' waves. Lake Michagan is like a washing machine. When the waves break up against a wall and all the energy is directed right back to the incoming waves. Then you have 18' waves. It gets very bad, very fast.
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Old 28-10-2007, 09:36   #4
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Conditions were not dangerous. The boat was a J-35. No 18' waves more like 10' max (and swells), but easterly is right, the refelction waves off the breakwater are nasty.

Autopsy's came back as drowning deaths. 4 were on board, 1 went forward to lower the jib and fell off (apparently not tethered). They called in a mayday and went to recover him. When they turned around, they lost control of the boat, capsized and washed up against the breakwater when the boat broke up.

My guess is they were very near the breakwater opening when the first one fell off. The water near the opening is generally very trecherous in these conditions, so it's easy to see how they lost control of the boat and subsequently drown. It would be very difficult to survive the wave action even with life jackets. Water temp was below 60.

Very sad. The crew had doen the Mac, were not unexperienced, and the waters really weren't that bad. Just a bad combination of circumstances.

They were in the water for 45 minutes before being pulled by rescue boats. I don't think you could have responded any faster.
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Old 28-10-2007, 11:30   #5
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IMHO, they waited too long to bring in the sails. Lowering the main BEFORE they got anywhere near the seawall would have been better. Leave the roller-furling genoa up; easy to furl without leaving the cockpit. And, a J35 (or most any decent sailing boat) will go to weather very nicely under genoa alone.

Most important, apparently they were not wearing harnesses attached to jacklines. In 9' seas, that's just asking for trouble.

Experienced or not, they clearly goofed. We all do. They got caught.

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Old 28-10-2007, 18:10   #6
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Very, very difficult MOB situation. Waves, seawall, no room. It went from bad to worse...

I won't second guess what coulda been done except, wear a line when on the foredeck in big chop.
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Old 28-10-2007, 21:09   #7
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I don't want to ignore the obvious and horrible human tragedy that has happened. But I think it's worthwhile to discuss this matter, with some respect for those who perished in the waters. They had families, friends, hopes, and dreams.

The only glaring thing to me is the jacklines. Venturing forward in 35 knots on a light displacement boat (or heavy, for that matter) without a jackline is fairly risky.

I saw a Hunter sailing by itself once off Torrey Pines in San Diego. The Coast Guard grabbed her and dropped her sails; the guess is that the solo sailor took a pee off the back, got bumped by a wave, and the rest I'm sure you can guess. By the numbers, you'd win 5/6 of your Russian Roulette games; it's not any safer the times you win than the time you lose.

The sea has no friends or enemies; just consequences.
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Old 29-10-2007, 07:53   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David M View Post
Really sad story. How does stuff like that happen? They were experienced. They were wearing their lafejackets. It was a seaworthy boat. Thirty five knots is not all that much wind for that boat and that crew to manage. I see racers out in 35 knots all the time. It may be a one of those times where there is a sequence of bad events. It had to have been. One guy falls over another guy reacts to the first guy and he falls over. The boat is too close to the rocks to get them back on board? The guys swim for the rocks. Fourty five minutes later they are dead from hypothermia or other injuries. It really makes one wonder how the simplest and relatively safe things can go wrong.
How? By doing the same thing that you always did BUT this time something happens... I see folks all the time waiting to get into a small area before they start lowering sail. Time after time it works. nothing gets hung up or falls overboard. Let that halyard jam just as the wind backs and increases 2x OR a crew falls overboard and it's now hitting the fan...Why, because they chose to drop sail in an area of limited manuverability. Why I'll never know....
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