Thursday, September 08, 2011

A case of three-sisters in Lake Michigan with a happy ending!

I just came across this Lake Michigan case reported in the Ozaukee Press a week ago by Bill Schanen IV:

Veteran captain and Divers’ Delight owner says freak waves flipped boat, spilling him, his crew and 10 customers into a churning Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan was already riled up by a freshening northeaster when veteran diver Ralph Ripple arrived at the wreck his customers wanted to explore Saturday morning, but Ripple had seen conditions like that more times then he can remember.

“We’ve gone out in conditions a hell of a lot worse,” said Ripple, who owns Divers’ Delight scuba diving charter service, which typically operates out of Port Washington but had departed from McKinley Marina in Milwaukee that morning to dive on the wreck of the car ferry Milwaukee about seven miles northeast of the city. “Heck, it was actually a pretty nice day.”

It happened in an instant. Hidden amid two to four-foot waves were three monsters — rogue waves that Ripple swears had to be 10 feet high — that swamped his custom 28-foot dive boat, then capsized it.

“We had just tied up to the wreck buoy and I was about to call off the diver because it was getting pretty lumpy, but I never got the chance,” Ripple said. “The first two waves swamped the boat and third rolled it over. It wasn’t violent, but there was nothing you could do to stop it.

“It was the strangest damn thing. These were freak waves that just came out of nowhere.”

Ten customers from Chicago, two crewmen and Ripple were left floating in the churning lake three miles off shore near Whitefish Bay.

“I think the divers jumped after the second wave hit,” said Ripple, who lives near West Bend. “They were about 20 feet from the boat when it rolled.”

The divers, all of whom were wearing wet suits, and Ripple, who had on a T-shirt and shorts, climbed onto the overturned boat.

It's a fairly long and detailed report, the rest was about getting rescued. This is a nice report with all the details about the freaque waves -- a case of 10' three sisters amidst 4' seas -- clearly provided by the experienced veteran captain. All 13 people on board the 28 feet boat were successfully rescued, no one was injured. A great happy ending story to read! Deo Gratias!

I was somewhat confused at first when they indicated that the boat was near Whitefish Bay. I know Whitefish Bay in eastern Lake Superior -- I have been there! It turned out that there is also a Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin in Lake Michigan. This, of course is only my personal ignorance. You learn something new every day!

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