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Sailboat beached at state park

Becky Vargo • Jul 3, 2018 at 7:00 AM

A Chicago resident ended up abandoning his sailboat near the Grand Haven State Park on Sunday evening after he got caught too close to shore with his sail up and motor off, police said.

Strong winds accompanying an incoming storm didn’t help the situation.

Grand Haven Department of Public Safety officers along with state park staff responded to the public beach shortly after 7:30 p.m. on a report of a tipped-over sailboat and possible water rescue.

Upon arrival, police said they found the 26-foot Mariah sailboat had washed ashore and the operator had made it to the beach. He was OK. 

Late Monday morning, a TowBoatUS operator pulled the sailboat off the beach. A growing crowd responded with cheers and clapping when the boat uprighted itself after being pulled over a couple of sand bars.

“We were down here to watch the storm come in,” local resident Tim Bullerdick said Monday morning. He and his wife, Pam, had watched the sailboat struggle in the waves on Sunday.

“He would come in, go back out and come in,” Bullerdick said. “All of a sudden, he blew his horn 4-5 times. We knew he was in trouble.”

Pam Bullerdick said several people went in the water to try to help, but were unable to do so.

“It was raining pretty hard at that point,” she said.

Related: See more photos of the beach boat at the Tribune photo gallery.

West Olive resident Ed Klukos, who was at the beach Sunday evening and again Monday morning, said there were still a lot of people in the water, swimming and surfing on the waves, when the sailboat tipped.

“The thing (sailboat) was rocking all around,” he said.

Despite strong winds all day Sunday, Klukos said he believed the waves were just 2-3 feet.

“It was just enough so you could surf,” he said. “But every wave brought it closer to shore.” 

The TowBoatUS crew anchored just outside the swim buoys at around 11 a.m. Monday. They attached a towline to the sailboat that was dug into shore with its keel. With the motors revving and sand churning, the vessel finally was cleared off the shore.

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