Seven Boats in Chicago Harbor Torn Apart in Storm

One of the dangers of being a diehard sailor became evident last week. Some Chicago skippers hadn’t yet hauled out when their boats were beaten by the intense wind and waves on Lake Michigan during a storm.

As many as seven boats in Monroe Harbor were reduced to flotsam and about 20 more were damaged by the heavy winds and high waves of a severe storm that tore across Lake Michigan.

“It’s just frustrating,” Quentin Arnold said last Thursday as he got ready to survey the damage to Rain Shadow, his capsized 1966 Cal 25 entry-level sailboat. “I put a lot of sweat into that boat.”

The Chicago Police Marine Unit got word about 10 p.m. last Wednesday that there were damaged and submerged motorboats and sailboats at the harbor, according to preliminary reports.

“It appears boats had broken away from their moorings due to the extreme weather conditions,” said a police spokesman, Officer John Mirabelli.

The National Weather Service estimated that wind speeds in the area reached roughly 60 mph during the storm. Arnold and other boat owners gathered on the south side of the downtown harbor to sort through what was left of their vessels — snapped masts, torn sails and other debris. One boater had to be rescued after he fell off his boat and was not able to climb back onboard.

Boat owner Michael Argyelan said a captain at the harbor called him last Wednesday night to tell him that the mooring line on his boat had begun to fray. By the time he got to the harbor, Argyelan said the violent weather made it impossible to go out on the water.

“The wind was howling, sails had gone loose, you could hear them ripping and shredding,” Argyelan said. “It was a pretty unreal sight.”

A few hours later, Argyelan got a call informing him that the line to his boat had snapped. When he went to see what had become of his Catalina 36 sailboat Thursday morning, it was nowhere to be found. Argyelan was finally able to identify his boat by its mast, the only part of Westwind that remained above water.

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