Six friends sailing in the middle of Lake Michigan grabbed buckets and bailed water Monday as their boat started sinking.
The sailboat started taking on water about 5 miles from shore as Sky 5 first showed during the NBC 5 News at 4 p.m.
“You see water rising out of the floor and it’s definitely shocking," Analissa Trinidad, one of the rescued boaters, told NBC 5 in an exclusive interview. "But right away I told Bobby 'we’re taking on water, we have to do something!'”
After making a distress call — the six friends began scooping the water overboard--but it wasn't enough.
“It was crazy," boater Barry Tharp said. "The big thing was bailing. We had a bailing line. All of us, we must’ve bailed 1,000 buckets.”
Rescuers responded within 10 minutes. They were worried about the cold water temperature hovering around 60 degrees.
“It was a situation that could’ve got a lot worse," Boatswain Mate John Huber, of the Coast Guard, said. "It was good they had their life jackets on when we got on scene if it did have to turn into a recovery situation. Luckily with our pumps they’re very powerful."
After pumping out the water, the Coast Guard stopped the leak and towed the sailboat back to the 31st Street Harbor.
“Without them we would’ve never gotten back,” boater Bob Barranco said. "The boat would’ve gone down because we couldn’t find the leak."
Barranco said he’s sailed Lake Michigan for 25 years and this is the first time he and his friends needed to be rescued.
“We wouldn’t have made it," Tharp agreed. "It would’ve sunk if it wasn’t for them. We weren’t keeping up with the water coming in ... I think they saved our lives.”
Officials remind boaters to thoroughly check all their equipment before heading out on Lake Michigan.