I was moving my 24' Crosby Cutter from a small marina in Pointe Mouiltee Michigan, to Humbug Marina, just three miles away. I left at 6 p.m. and used my little one cylinder Kermath inboard to make a quick trip of it, as my wife had dropped me off and would pick me up at Humbug. The weather was clear and there was almost no wind.
The forecast called for a front to come through after midnight, with high wind and waves. The first mistake was no radio (I had taken it in for service), then my engine failed and I ran aground near a small island at the mouth of the channel. My wife knew something was wrong when I didn't arrive as planned.
She called the Coast Guard on the phone; they seemed to think I was just out sailing for my last time of the year. As the time passed the Coast Guard agreed that they needed to begin a search. It is now after midnight and I am feeling the wind rise and temp. drop. I did have a flare gun and shot one off. I later learned that someone in Canada had seen the flare and thought it was fireworks.
At about 1 a.m., I heard the unmistakable sound of the Coast Guard chopper, as they got closer, I fired off one more flare (which they did see) and suddenly I had huge flood lights over me. A basket was lowered and a loud speaker told me to jump in as it swung by.
The problem was that the wind was now really blowing and the basket kept moving. The helo had trouble holding a hover in that wind, so I jumped for the basket as it came by and I missed and went into the water (58 degrees) I finally got in the basket and was lifted to the helo. The odd part was still to come.
I was told to stay in the basket by the crewman, and next thing I know I am being pushed back out, and lowered onto the deck of a 41' Coast Guard boat. According to the crew on the boat the seas by then where 8 to 12 feet and winds were 40 to 50 mph. It took some time to get me aboard the 41'. I was then taken to Humbug Marina were my wife was waiting.
I am now a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and an instructor in our boating safety classes. I use this story in my class to show how quickly things can go wrong on the water. I have included pictures of before and after of my little cutter.
I have boated on the Great Lakes since I was a child (I'm now 71) and this was one of my most memorable experiences.Larry Dunn
Flotilla 18-05, Livonia MI