Monday, October 29, 2007


Click here for a tragic story that was reported in the Chicago Tribune last month.

IT REMINDED ME of a similar experience in the late 80s.

My ex- and I learned to sail in the late 80s. After completing our course, we naturally did a lot of sailing. The boat in the Tribune story was a J-35. We were on a J-22.

J-boats," as they are called, are popular, well-built racing sloops that range from 22 to 65 feet.

THERE WERE FOUR SAILORS on the ill-fated J-35. There were six of us on the J-22. We were overloaded. There were originally four of us, but our sailing club made us an offer we should've refused. But, it was one of those perfect sailing days so when they asked whether we would take a third couple in exchange for letting us sail for free, we accepted.

THIRTY MINUTES after we left the safety of Belmont Harbor, the weather turned nasty. Very quickly. We were suddenly caught by a squall. The weather on the lake, like the city, changes very rapidly. Whitecaps gave way to pelting rain and strong winds. Before long, large waves buffeted us. Like the sailors in the story, we dropped our sails and tried to motor into the harbor. It didn't work since the stern would emerge from the water every time our boat pitched. (Our outboard motor was at the stern.)
The wind was pushing us towards the wall. We had to get away! We were probably only 60 feet from disaster.

The only remaining method of propulsion was by sail. We had to raise our sails. Divine intervention, more than our novice skills, made it work. We were able to actually sail away from the wall. After 10 minutes, the squall passed, we dropped our sails and motored safely into the harbor. Just as if nothing happened. Ho hum...

NOBODY WAS HURT. Everybody was shaken. Two of our passengers threw up. It was quite a sight to see it suspended in mid-air but I'll spare you from further details. We were drenched but glad to be alive.

I still sail with the club. It's under different management now however.

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