It's been almost 25 years since Chuck Muer, his wife and two friends disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle. There is very little info on this disappearance. No photos and no videos remain..You'd think with the fame and fortune Chuck had acquired, that more of an effort to solve this tragedy would have been made...
Chuck Muer was a VERY successful renovator of historical buildings and restauranteur. He was from Michigan and had many high profile restaurants in SE Michigan. Yesterday I photographed one of Chuck's greatest renovations, the Gandy Dancer in Ann Arbor. Read that story here.
While I was working on that story I wondered whatever became of the search for Muer who's 40 ft boat disappeared on a trip from the Bahamas to Jupiter Florida in 1993.
Talk about a COLD case...I can't find a photo of his boat "Charley's Crab". Can't find a photo of Chuck and his wife...weird... A week after the disappearance this case totally dropped off the radar. They searched for him and his party as peenie wallie humorously describes.
Chuck is famous for leaving his sales job at IBM and jumping into building restaurants. That decision resulted in a restaurant empire that grosses more than $60 million annually. The Pittsburgh/Lake Erie train station became the 500-seat Grand Concourse (above), his single biggest money-maker.
Then the unthinkable happened...Chuck, his wife, Betty, and their friends, George and Lynn Drummey, disappeared at sea when a monster storm pummeled the East Coast. His red-hulled 40-foot Charley`s Crab was last seen on March 12, 1993, sailing northwest from the Bahamas, apparently en route to Jupiter, where it was due on March 13. They never made it to port...
LANTANA -- At 4:25 a.m. March 13, 1993, a call came into the 911 emergency center in Palm Beach County.
An operator took the call but could hear nothing but the crackle of static.
The weather had been clear and calm two days earlier when Charles and Betty Muer, joined by lifelong friends George and Lynn Drummey, set sail from the Bahamas for the trip back to Florida. Now, in the early morning darkness, they were losing a desperate battle against 30-foot seas and winds of 70 miles an hour.
At 4:27 a.m., a second call to the 911 center. Again, nothing. Nothing but static. It was the last anyone would hear from Charley's Crab.
20 years later, no trace of the 40-foot ketch or its four occupants has ever been found. They remain unaccounted for -- presumed victims of the "Storm of the Century."
Crew members aboard a Coast Guard Falcon jet were among the last to see his boat the Charley`s Crab. The jet, on routine patrol, flew over the boat at 2:45 p.m. March 12 as the Charley`s Crab headed northwest from Chub Cay toward the Great Isaac Light, a light tower used as a local landmark on the western edge of the Bahamas.
The location of the boat ``would have put it on a track headed home,`` Coast Guard spokesman Joe Dye said.
The Charley`s Crab also had been seen the previous day, March 11, at Chub Cay.
He came in, he circled around the marina, and he went back out,`` said Gerreth Roberts, dock master at the Chub Cay Club Marina.
The last time anyone on the boat was heard from was on March 11 when George Drummey called his son from Nassau, Mari Muer said. ``He just said, `We`re in Nassau; see you on Saturday,``` she said.
Muer, a skilled sailor, apparently left only a general itinerary with his business associates and seven children. He sailed from Florida on March 2 or 3, and his wife and the others flew to meet him in Paradise Island. They were to sail from Nassau to Chub Cay in the Berry Islands chain and leave there on March 11 for Jupiter.
"That's a huge area. That's an unsearchable area, and the fact that the Gulf Stream is involved makes it even more difficult. We need to narrow that down. We need to find somebody who's talked to them in between those two ports (Berry's Islands and Jupiter)," Coast Guard Lt. Mark Dolan said.
Sailors at Chub Cay said Muer might have thought the weather would be much less severe than it was, based on forecasts received on March 11.
``Nobody expected that severe a storm,`` said Donald Farrar, of Connecticut, who weathered the storm in his 26-foot Snapdragon off Chub Cay. ``The forecast was for 30 to 40 knots, with occasional gusts. Nobody expected 70 to 80 knots. It was a wicked thing.` Read More
This is from my friend Michael McDaniel..
Chuck Muer was my first culinary hero. At 10 years old in 1964, my father took me to his friend who lived next to Charley's Crab on Pine Lake (before it burned down). I was mesmerized by all the cars and beautiful people who valet parked and enjoyed his restaurant on a warm summers evening. When I moved to West Bloomfield in 1984, Muer had a restaurant at Maple and Orchard Lake Roads. "Mussels a la Muer, Teacup Bread with Honey Cinnamon Butter, and Crab Stuffed Flounder" were but a few of his trademark recipes.
I met him several times at this location, always cordial and dressed in his signature bow tie. 20 years ago this March, he and Betty were lost at sea (along with George and Lynn Drummey of the Drummey Oldsmobile dealership fame).
The family published two cookbooks posthumously which I bought and truly treasure. One has a picture of Chuck and his beautiful wife Betty which I share here. His passing ended a hallmark in the Detroit restaurant establishment that has been rarely duplicated since. Michael McDaniel
FROM A READER:Hi Kimmer,
Just read your post about Chuck’s disappearance, it had been a while since the topic of thought has come up. Bud and Chuck had been family friends as I was growing up. I was also living at Jupiter Harbor at the time and in the marina every day I wasn’t in school, working on boats. One of our slips was directly next to Charley’s Crab- the Boat AND the restaurant.
The boat itself was mostly an art piece to keep at the dock for Charley’s Crab patrons to look at while eating. The round hull, small scuppers, and inadequate bilge pumps made it very unseaworthy in a storm. MANY people, my father included, warned Chuck AGAINST coming back from the Bahamas on that trip. Chuck decided to try to outrun the storm because “He had outrun a hurricane once.” and thought that he could do it again.
We weathered that storm in Jupiter and I remember it along with the hurricanes in the same house. When Chuck hadn’t been heard from (12 or 24 hours), we all started getting concerned. My father was in contact with authorities and their family during the first couple of days and weeks. We watched and waited in the marina, no red boat showed up. You claim that the search had stopped after a week, it went on for much longer, though potentially privately,
HOWEVER, within 48 hours of being overdue with no contact, the paternal unit made a few predictions about what potentially happened, based on knowing the boat, owner, and “crew.”
His take on it, which I still accept, yet paraphrase, since it HAS been a few decades. (was a kid then, old now)…
“Chuck tried to outrun the storm because he had before. With the storm coming from behind [and the lack of seaworthiness of the boat in a storm], they probably caught a wave from behind or from the side and it swamped the boat. The scuppers and bilge pumps couldn’t keep up and it went down like a rock.”
As far as Chub Cay….. My mother lived there for a few years and I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a few times. Chuck would be better off and probably here today if he hadn’t tried to outrun a "winter storm of the century.” and had either stayed in harbor or asked a friend for a plane ride back.
Again, it has been a very long time since remembering this this subject existed. I wanted to try to provide you with a more accurate recollections from there and then, as someone “on the dock at the time."
Try to outrun a storm like that and might as well ask Davie Jones what else he’s got in his locker.
I’ve loved and will continue to remember both Chuck and Bud extremely favorably since being a youngin running back and forth over Royal Palm Highway.
RK: Why do you think no evidence ever washed ashore anywhere?
That was always our take, that there would be nothing left. There was no internal flotation, and IIRC, there was no survival package (life raft) onboard above decks. There was very little onboard that would have survived the pummeling of that storm. That storm was brutal, even on land.
I do remember the controversy in the news about how nothing had been found, but…. there wasn’t much TO be found.
For once, i agree with my father, that It would swamp and go down in one piece in 30 seconds or less. As there was also very little life gear onboard being 1993…..and do not remember seeing any life raft canisters on deck.
That boat was never meant for 20-30 foot seas. Try imagining a 20-30 foot swell coming in quickly from behind and just putting a paw down on the transom then a few tons of water swelling up inside what was up until now, your safe place and mode of transportation.
We all REALLY wanted the red boat to come back to the dock, but it never arrived :(.
A Slightly Salty Cheers!