OS sailors share harrowing story of survival after tragedy strikes Mobile Bay regatta

OS sailors share harrowing story of survival after tragedy strikes Mobile Bay regatta

A catamaran carrying a father and son team from Ocean Springs was among the vessels that capsized in a fierce storm in Mobile Bay Saturday. Both men and their families are thankful they survived, especially after learning about the tragic loss of two other sailors and the four who are still missing. The men described the storm as a mini-hurricane, one they never want to experience again.

"There's the front end of the boat. It snapped right off. The mast is in two pieces," described Mark Ederer.

One look at Ederer's torn-up catamaran and you get a sense of the powerful storm that pounded the boat.

"It's the most violent thunderstorm I've ever experienced in my life," he said.

That violent storm struck in a matter of seconds on what had started out as just an overcast day.

"The wind did get up to gusts about 20 knots, very lumpy seas, but it was very manageable," he explained.

Ederer and his son Kris had just finished a two-and-a-half hour race on Mobile Bay. They were heading back to the yacht club when a storm started brewing. They made it about 150-yards from shore, when all of a sudden, the wind and rain kicked-up.

"You saw a white wall coming to you, and within 10-15 seconds, it went from five miles per hour to 60-70 just like that. Bam!" Ederer said.

The boat flipped on its side, tossing Ederer into the water. His son Kris, however, got stuck as the boat was turning.

"I had my butt bucket on over my jacket here, and my life jacket. This little hook here got caught onto some wires," Kris said.

Kris ended up eight feet in the air, but he managed to get unhooked just in time.

"The boat just started doing somersaults, not fun at all," Kris said.

"That instant was very fearful, because he was stuck on the wires, and the boat was lifting up again. He could have went flying with it," said Mark.

Both men swam to the closest pier, battling four-foot waves and pelting cold rain.

"We cuddled up in a fetal position on the pier to stay warm, because hypothermia was setting in," said Mark.

Both father and son feel blessed to be alive, especially after learning two other sailors didn't make it.

"I knew we were safe. Immediately going through my mind was all my competitors that were still out on the race course, because there were still a lot of boats left on the race course. I knew there was going to be some tragedy involved in this," said Mark. "I feel for the families, I really do. It's a tragedy."

"It's sad. It's very hard to go on. That race is probably going to be difficult for me to go back to," said Kris.

But, the Ederers won't let this frightening ordeal keep them from getting back on the water.

"I still have more racing left in me and he has more racing left in him," said Mark.

Their boat is considered a total loss.

"I'll probably take my chain saw and cut it up and put it out on the yard," said Mark. "It's a material thing. You can buy another one. The main thing I was concerned about was the safety of my son."

The Ederers say they take part in the Dauphin Island Regatta every year. They are already searching for a new catamaran.

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