MILWAUKEE -- A relaxing sail on Lake Michigan became a rescue Saturday, Oct. 20. Four members of the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center were out on the water when they noticed something out of the ordinary. Their quick action helped save a man's life.
The women said it all came down to their training. They saw an empty boat on the lake and heard cries for help. Without hesitation, they stepped up.
"Beautiful fall day for a sail," said Sheri Kanyer, rescuer.
Most trips out on Lake Michigan are relaxing, but for these women, time on the water Saturday took an unexpected turn.
"We saw this boat just, in the middle of the breakwater -- just sitting there," said Bonnee Lugauer, rescuer.
The sails were down, and there was no one on board. They knew something was wrong and decided to take a closer look.
"We heard a sound -- 'Help!'" said Lugauer.
"The man and the voice was 50 to 70 yards away from where the boat was," said Kanyer.
As they got closer, they saw a man in the water, waving his hand. He had fallen off his boat into the cold lake.
"We were in the right place, at the right time, with the right training," said Jill Sorenson, rescuer.
The women knew exactly what to do because of special training with the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center.
"The idea is to stop right alongside the boat, so we can secure him," said Kanyer.
As one person radioed for help, another was focused on the man in the water.
"There was no real sense of alarm, or urgency, or panic," said Sorenson.
The women waited, reassuring the man.
"I was talking to him as we got close enough and told him, 'We've called for help,'" said Lugauer. "'Help is on the way.'"
The Milwaukee Harbor Patrol arrived within minutes, and the man was pulled out of the water. It may not have been the expected start to a nice day on Lake Michigan, but it had a perfect ending.
"I just feel very grateful that it was a positive outcome," said Kanyer.
Officials at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center said the man was OK. He was in the water for about 30 minutes.
The women were thankful they had the needed training to help save him.