Two men who tried to navigate their sailboat in choppy waters off the Wilmette lakefront Sunday morning narrowly escaped injury when wind and waves flipped the craft and threw them into the water near a breakwall between the Wilmette sailing beach and the dog beach.
One man was helped to safety by a Wilmette Park District lifeguard, district lakefront manager Holly Specht said Monday.
A four-man rescue crew responded from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Wilmette station to the 11:25 a.m. call. However, the crew couldn’t reach the second man because his position in the water was too close to the breakwall to allow for a safe approach, Chief Boatswain’s Mate Robert DeVoy said Tuesday.
“My crew couldn’t get close because of some pretty nasty waves hitting the wall,” he said. “Luckily, the waves didn’t crash him into the breakwall, but actually pushed him right onto shore.”
DeVoy said it was the third rescue call this summer, and the second time within one week that the Coast Guard responded to swimmers or boaters in distress off the Wilmette shore. On Aug. 3 a rescue crew pulled a Chicago man from the water. He had been swimming near the breakwall when waves began throwing him against the wall.
Two Wilmette police cars also responded to the incident, Police Department Cmdr. Patrick Collins said.
DeVoy noted that weather conditions forecast for Lake Michigan on Aug. 14 called for waves of up to five and six feet in height and wind gusts of up to 35 mph.
“We’d like to put the message out that if people are going to get their sailboats under way that they look at the weather when they make the decision to do so,” he said. “Luckily there were no injuries, no deaths in this case. Everybody was wearing a life jacket, which ultimately played a major role in them not getting hurt.”