I’ve always wondered about the value of that whistle we’re required to carry. Now I know.
The Chicago-Mackinac sailboat race took place this weekend. Winds on Lake Michigan became progressively stronger and at one point were reported at 50 kts with waves 9-10. One multihull capsized; crew rescued by the USCG (two crew members were not wearing life vests, quite amazingly). One sailor on another boat went overboard and spent an hour in the water in the dark. Here’s part of their story from the site Spinsheet:
"There was a scary night, July 15, when rough weather rolled in quickly, as it does on the Great Lakes, and a catamaran flipped. David McCreight on Dark Horse was one of the boats to stand by to assist when the Coast Guard showed up to help the five sailors in the water. Although the crew’s assistance was not needed, we’d like to acknowledge the team for their sportsmanlike and thoughful conduct.
"Another experienced Chesapeake sailor, Mark Wheeler, fell overboard in the night off Meridian X [38-foot Farr 400] and was in the water for an hour before being rescued. He is SAFE and OKAY now!
"According to David Flynn, the nine-man crew was going along nicely in 15 knots with the spinnaker up, when the wind built into the 30s. They lost Wheeler overboard while trying to quickly take down the kite.
“‘When you’re moving along at 15-18 knots of boat speed, you cover distance quickly. We had to take down the kite, and it took a while to get back to him… He had on his lifejacket—he had all the right equipment—but his strobe light failed, which made him very difficult to find. Fortunately, we could hear his whistle (the breeze was in the 40s by then). We found him because of a $2 piece of equipment.’”
“Flynn explained how they recovered Mark and warmed him up as he was hypothermic by then. He’s okay now. ‘It was one of the more terrifying hours of my life,’ says Flynn.”