Coast Guard warns boaters, beachgoers of continued hazardous conditions on Lake Michigan after 2 vessels capsize

9th Coast Guard District News
CHICAGO — The Coast Guard is warning boaters and beachgoers of the continued hazardous conditions on Lake Michigan Monday following this weekend’s high winds and heavy surf that capsized two sailboats, sending five people into the water off of the north shores.

On Sunday evening, the Coast Guard received a call from a family member who reported that her husband and his friend were approximately five hours overdue from a planned, short round trip from Highland Park to Glencoe aboard a 16-foot sailboat.

Coast Guard search crews launched aboard a rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Facility Waukegan and a 25-foot Response Boat-Small from Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor, in Wilmette, Ill. Shortly after, the helicopter crew located the two men and their capsized 16-foot sailboat about 200 yards off of Highland Park. Both men refused assistance while continuing to make their way to shore. The Coast Guard helicopter remained overhead until the men were safely onshore. Neither men required medical assistance, and both were wearing life jackets and wetsuits.

At about the same time, the Coast Guard received a call about an 18-foot sailboat that had overturned near Wilmette. The crew of an RB-S from Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor arrived on scene and rescued three men and brought them to shore. All three were wearing life jackets.

The Coast Guard reminds boaters to be cognizant of weather conditions before venturing out on the water. Yesterday’s weather conditions included winds of more than 30 mph and waves upwards of 5 feet.

In addition, boaters are encouraged to have a VHF-FM marine radio aboard in order to call for assistance. Additionally, always wear your life jackets while underway.

A small craft advisory remains in effect for the Chicago area through Tuesday evening, including the area from the north near Winthrop Harbor to Michigan City, Ind. Winds are expected to slowly subside but will exceed 25 mph with waves 4-7 feet.

The Coast Guard is also reminding swimmers and beachgoers of the dangers of rip currents. Rip currents are strong, narrow currents moving away from shore. The strongest rip currents can attain speeds reaching 8 feet per second — faster than an Olympic swimmer can swim.

The following are tips for identifying, avoiding and escaping rip currents.

Identify – Look for changes in water color; water motion; channels of churning or choppy water; lines of foam, seaweed or debris moving outward,

Avoid – Check the latest National Weather Service forecast for local beach conditions before heading out; learn to swim; learn to swim in surf; never swim alone; swim near a lifeguard; look for posted signs and warning flags indicating hazards; check with lifeguards before swimming and obey their instructions; always assume rip currents are present; if in doubt, don’t go out,

Escape – Remain calm to conserve energy; don’t fight the current; swim across the current parallel to the shoreline; when out of the current, swim an angle away from the current and toward shore; if you can’t escape, try to float or tread water until the current subsides then swim to shore; if you can’t reach shore, face the shore, wave your arms and yell for help to draw attention,

Assist – Get help from a lifeguard or if one isn’t available, call 911; throw the victim something that floats – a life jacket, cooler, ball; yell instructions to escape; don’t become a victim trying to help someone else.

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