At least 20 sailboats in the south end of Monroe Harbor were damaged or submerged in strong winds and high waves overnight.
Boats began loosening up and breaking away from the harbor wall around 9 p.m. Wednesday. The Chicago Police Marine Unit said they did what they could, but the water was so rough officials said they couldn't save the boats without putting themselves in danger.
By Thursday morning, sailboat masts were sticking out of the water, and life preserves, boat seats and even a bow of a boat were floating in a mass among sunken boats.
"We took about nine out of here this morning," said Sgt. Ray Mazzola of the Marine Unit, "and the rest are sunk on the bottom."
"We were trying to get those boats untangled from each other," said Aramon Thomas, also with the Chicago Police Marine Unit. "We just did what we had to do."
One boater, Kirk Kessler, said he was able to pull out his boat last weekend.
"It's kind of fortunate for me, and unfortunate for others," Kessler said, "but it's the same story I hear from boaters every year."
The Marine Unit said it will be a couple more days before all of the boats can be salvaged.
The total damage is unclear at this time, Mazzola said.