Real-time Earth and Moon phase

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Happened in Lake Michigan

I have blogged about freaque wave encounters all around the world, some tragic, and some had a happy ending. Today we have a story that's actually closer to home -- in Lake Michigan with a happy ending that was never in doubt.

Here's the rather light heart reporting from mlive.com prepared by the local reports of the Muskegon Chronicle:

MUSKEGON COUNTY -- A sunset sail on Lake Michigan turned into a three-hour adventure Wednesday evening for Josiah Schrotenboer of Grand Rapids.

It would be almost 9:30 p.m. before Schrotenboer finally reached shore again with help from the Muskegon County Sheriff's Marine Unit.

The U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and rescue boat were also on the scene an estimated half-mile offshore, about 2 miles north of Pioneer Park in Muskegon County's Fruitland Township.

A passing boater and Schrotenboer's wife Amy, pregnant with the couple's second child, had assisted Schrotenboer earlier.

"There hasn't been this much excitement along here for years," said Amy Schrotenboer on the beach Wednesday in front of the summer home that's been in her family for generations.

Josiah Schrotenboer, who was wearing a "shorty" wetsuit, said he was never in danger, but was reluctant to leave his small catamaran.

"With the wetsuit and life vest I could have swum to shore, but I wanted to get the boat in," he said.

Shortly after a gust of wind combined with a freak wave to dump Schrotenboer into the frigid 46-degree water, Amy paddled a canoe out to check on him.

He was OK, but she couldn't linger long. "I noticed that the canoe had a leak," she said.

Josiah help bail out the canoe and Amy paddled back to shore.

A passing boater tried to help right the sailboat before the Coast Guard and sheriff's unit arrived.

As the sheriff's unit towed Schrotenboer's craft to shore, the Coast Guard helicopter dropped low to the water behind the rescue boat and proceeded slowly to the north in an impromptu training exercise.

Schrotenboer dragged the sailboat as far onto the shore as he could manage before heading up the bluff. "I'm going to take a hot shower and warm up," he said.

So the whole episode is stemmed from "a gust of wind combined with a freak wave." Luckily as Mr. Schrotemboer said he "was never in danger." That can be substantiated by the fact that his wife can even joked about "There hasn't been this much excitement along here for years." Though there was not much details, but there was a freaque wave encountered. That should not be expected that it can always happens nice and easy like this time. The Great Lakes, just like the world oceans, can not be expected to be free from freaque waves. Our former Director told me that he had encountered a freaque wave in Lake Michigan near Ludington, Michigan north of Muskegon. That was 1956 when he was piloting a small research vessel some time during the earky days of his research career. He was never in danger either. But freaque waves are out there anyway, whether or not there's people around. Just beware!

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