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Lake Michigan

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jweller001 says on 2011-07-20 12:16:13 Ports by Boat Member Photo
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the two experienced sailors that died after sudden strong winds flipped their sailboat in northern Lake Michigan during the Chicago Yacht Club's Race to Mackinac. This is the race's 103rd year.

The 35-foot boat was sailing near Fox Island, about 13 miles northwest of Charlevoix, Mich., shortly before midnight when a storm raced up, officials and witnesses said.

Six of the crew were rescued, including two teenage boys, 15 and 16.
Mark Morley, 51, the skipper of the WingNuts, and Suzanne Bickel, 41, both of Saginaw, Mich. died of head trauma suffered when the sailboat turned over. ?They were ready for the storm, they had their sails down," said, whose 16-year-old son Christopher, known as "C.J.," was rescued. "But the wind suddenly whipped up. . .The wind caught one of the hulls and flipped it right over." He estimated the gusts at 65 knots.

Cummings said the crew were all wearing safety harnesses that secured them to the boat. "They're good when you're sailing, but not when the boat capsizes.". C.J.'s friend, Stuart Morley, 15, was able to get out of his harness and free Cummings' son. "Stuart untethered and then untethered C.J. They scrambled to the hull, they were clinging to the hull. They activated their emergency equipment," which included lights and whistles and beacons.

Other crew members were able to cut or unclip their safety lines and also make it to the overturned hull, Cummings said. But Morley and Bickel "were unable to free themselves."

The crew of another boat in the race, the Sociable, were able to home in on him and others, Cummings said. "They were in the water maybe 10 to 15 minutes."

Cummings said the crew was very experienced. Morley "was a seasoned sailor and a veteran of over 20 Chicago-Mackinac races," Cummings said later in a statement. "Mark is a descendent of the Morley family of Saginaw and worked for Morley Companies. He was the president of the Morley Foundation and very active in the community. He has many lifelong friends, and leaves behind a daughter."

Bickel, he said, "was also a seasoned sailor and scuba diver who recently sailed across the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean. She certainly enjoyed adventure and is also a veteran of many Chicago-Mackinac race.
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