Archives for October 2007

Another Lake Michigan boating disaster:
J/35 Jason: Initial Thoughts

The loss of life is extremely tragic.

This disastrous incident reaches all of us in the Chicago area sailing community, and hits close to home for many of us.

I knew John Finn, and sailed the 1998 Chicago-Mackinac with him, before he owned J/35 Jason. I also sailed one beercan race on Jason, and enjoyed one of John’s rooftop parties which he very graciously hosted.

I did not know the other crewmembers of the ill-fated delivery, and regret that I will never have the opportunity. I am both deeply saddened, and, quite honestly, somewhat outraged, that three lives are now no longer with us.

Amidst the sadness and grief, there are questions surrounding this ill-fated delivery voyage. By all accounts, there were a number of opportunities where better decision-making would have resulted in a safer journey.

Death is too high a price to pay for an activity we engage in only for pleasure. Unfortunately, the hazards of nature and elements beyond one’s own control sometime make that an unforgiving reality of the risks we take.

However, we should not discount the importance of all efforts necessary to prevent danger.

I cannot help but imagine the horror each of the four Jason crewmembers and the Coast Guard rescue team experienced on that night, beginning with the first awareness of the actual dangers involved in the voyage, to the loss of a crewmember overboard, the loss of the boat underneath your feet, and the individual fight for survival in the darkness against water, cold, and the unyielding breakwall.

We can all be thankful for the call to the Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard’s prompt rescue response. Without the wherewithal to make those efforts, the entire crew would have been lost.

My heart goes out to all who are affected by these events.

26 October 2007 | Boating Disasters, Columbia Yacht Club, Lake Michigan, Safety | 3 Comments

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