Skip to main content

Hanson Rescue Medals awarded to skippers

The US Sailing Safety-at-Sea Committee awarded Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medals to four boats for the seamanship displayed by their crews during rescues in separate incidents on Lake Huron in Michigan and on Hawaii's Kaneohe Bay.

Three Hanson Rescue Medals were awarded for the Jan. 25, 2009 rescue of a sailor on Kaneohe Bay. During a race in 15-25 knot winds, skipper Joe Cochran of the Cal 20 keelboat Ol' Blue fell overboard. Cochran was in the early stages of ALS and not wearing a life jacket. Crewmembers on board Ol' Blue promptly took action. Robert McDonald took the helm and turned back toward Cochran. Meanwhile, Jim Silcox jumped in and kept Cochran's head above water. Two other Cal 20s and an International 14 dinghy dropped out of their races to assist with the rescue. The International 14 capsized in the process (the crew was unharmed); however, skipper Shelley James had previously alerted a Kaneohe Bay Yacht Club powerboat. Two sailors boarded the powerboat from the Cal 20s and helped pull Cochran and Silcox on board. Silcox and Fuzz Foster attended to Cochran until the boat reached shore. Honolulu Fire Department medics administered oxygen and took Cochran to a local hospital, where he remained for three days.

One Hanson medal is awarded to Ol' Blue and her crew, Silcox and McDonald. Another is awarded to the powerboat and her crew, Ken Schmidt and Georgia Schmidt, and the two sailors who joined them from the Cal 20s, Foster and Robin Durnin. The third Hanson Medal is awarded to James of the International 14.

Time Machine (Robert Gordenker, owner-skipper, Ann Arbor, Mich.) received the award for rescuing two people Aug. 1 on Lake Huron. Time Machine, a J/35 sloop, was returning to the North Cape Yacht Club after finishing the Port Huron-Mackinac Race in a 25-knot headwind and rough seas. Approximately five miles offshore, Gordenker spotted a paddle waving above the water. Clinging to a capsized small sailboat were two people in life jackets. Gordenker and his crew, Dee Adkins and Dennis Maurer, hauled both of them on deck by hand. Gordenker has posted a detailed account and analysis of the rescue at

Information about the Hanson Rescue Medal, including nomination forms, can be found at