Harken Derm

This could have been much worse

Published on August 21st, 2019

After wicked winds the night before, August 19th started out as usual at Fisherman’s Wharf in Port Clinton, OH. Seventeen customers boarded the “Waterfox,” a commercial fishing boat, and headed out of harbor on Lake Erie. But in their path was an odd-shaped object that soon enough would change their plan.

First mate Brant Cook recalls “as we got closer, it just looked too big to be a jet ski, and I realized this was probably going to be a more serious situation.”

Captain Eric Langermeier says that Cook suddenly turned to him, “his eyes big as saucers, and we realized it was a guy straddling the hull of his boat.”

A sailor, found 4-and-a-half miles offshore, his sailing vessel capsized overnight. According to his wife, he was trying to sail from Put-In-Bay home to Port Clinton, when the winds whipped up around 8pm on August 18, sending him into the water.

Langenmeier observed a few things right away, saying “he was capsized, had no radio and had lost his cell phone. It even happened so fast that he’d lost his life jacket.”

Incredibly, the sailor survived a full half-day clinging to the hull of his boat, suffering from mild hypothermia but otherwise in good spirits.

The captain radioed the Coast Guard for assistance just before 8am, making the transfer to bring him to shore for treatment. Chief Petty Officer Turner says the experience should ultimately serve as a cautionary tale.

“Make a float plan, check the weather before you get out, and as always, wear a life jacket.”

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