CLEVELAND — A rescue helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., rescued two sailors in Lake Michigan this afternoon after their 32-foot sailing vessel became disabled in heavy weather.
Rescued was a 49-year-old man from Evanston, Ill., and a 65-year-old man from Naperville, Ill.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan were contacted at 3:27 a.m. CST by the owner/operator of the vessel that his 32-foot sailing vessel was disabled and adrift about 25 nautical miles east of Waukegan, Ill. The search and rescue controllers at Sector Lake Michigan established a communication schedule with the vessel.
After Sector Lake Michigan lost communications with the crew of the sailing vessel at 4:10 a.m. CST, they issued an urgent marine information broadcast. A rescue boatcrew launched from Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor in Chicago aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium, but not before they received a waiver to launch due to weather conditions exceeding the boat’s traditional operating limits.
Weather at the time was reported as 8-10-foot seas, with occasional 12-foot waves, and winds sustained at 30 knots.
An aircrew also launched aboard an MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City.
En route to the vessel’s last known position, the Station Calumet Harbor RB-M crew were able to hail the sailing vessel’s crew on their marine radio at 6:54 a.m. CST.
Once on scene at 7:03 CST, the RB-M crew was unable to disembark the two men or take the vessel in tow, due to the weather.
The aircrew was on scene at 10:11 a.m. CST and deployed its rescue swimmer to the vessel. The two sailboat crewmembers were then put into the water and hoisted into the helicopter by the flight mechanic. This was done because it was determined that a direct hoist from the deck of the sailboat would prove too dangerous to conduct due to the sea state and vessel’s sails and riggings.
Once both sailors and the aircrew’s rescue swimmer were in the aircraft, the sailors were transported to Waukegan Regional Airport and turned over to awaiting EMS.
The vessel remains adrift on Lake Michigan. The Coast Guard is monitoring and issuing a broadcast notice to mariners, alerting them to the disabled and adrift vessel, until the owner can coordinate commercial salvage.