Yesterday we had another example of why recreational kayaks do not belong on Lake Michigan (or any other large body of water), and why it can be so dangerous to buy a kayak from a home improvement store or other big box retailer where there is no safety information passed on to the customer.
These paddlers considered themselves “experienced” kayakers which shows how completely uninformed they really are about what kayaking on the Great Lakes is all about. No “experienced” kayaker would ever take a basic recreational kayak like the Menard’s “Viper 10” out on Lake Michigan, let alone 5 miles offshore. There is no inherent flotation built into these kayaks. The rear hatch cover on these boats does not cover a sealed compartment. You can reach around the sides of the seat into the rear portion of the kayak. They were obviously ignorant of how waves are formed or they would have expected to see larger waves that far offshore. They are also quite lucky that they were able to obtain emergency help quickly as it looks like neither man was dressed for prolonged immersion. Thankfully for them, this late in August the water is a little more temperate making cold shock less likely, but hypothermia is still a concern on Lake Michigan even in the summer. The “waterproof” pouch that the one man was using to protect his cell phone was pretty flimsy and could have just as easily leaked making it impossible to call for help.
An awful lot of money was spent to send out a helicopter to rescue these kayakers. Buying the correct equipment and getting appropriate instruction would have been a lot cheaper, not to mention the fact that this incident could easily have resulted in a much less “happy” ending. Once again, the 3 simple rules that everyone needs to remember are:
- ALWAYS wear a life jacket!
- ALWAYS dress for the water temperature (and potential immersion)!
- NEVER paddle a recreational kayak out on large bodies of water!
Let’s stay safe out there.