Sunday, June 24, 2007
I just returned from a weekend in the Apostles and have an unconfirmed report that a kayaker died near the mainland sea caves off Meyers beach on Friday night. I searched both the Duluth News Tribune and the Ashland Daily Press and found no info on the incident. The volunteer couple at the Michigan Island lighthouse told us on Saturday that they had heard radio chatter of a kayaker being airlifted to Duluth by helicopter Friday night after being pulled from the water by the Coast Guard. The ranger at Meyers beach, this afternoon, told us that the guy didn't make it; he was flown to Duluth around 6pm and died around 10pm. His core temp was 77F. This afternoon in the Village Inn in Cornie, the topic of conversation was 'stupid kayakers' and 'how many times does this need to happen before they wise up'. One of the commercial fisherman from Halversons said water temp a few feet below the surface in the lake was 41F.
Here's the story to the best of my knowledge, pieced together from a half dozen unconfirmed sources. Two kayakers, mid 30's, with rec boats, life jackets but no spray skirts or paddle floats/bilge pumps, try to launch at Meyers Beach but are strongly discouraged by the ranger on duty. After the ranger leaves they launch and head for the caves anyway. One of the guys, wearing a T-shirt and shorts, capsizes. The other has no idea what to do. Whether he heads for help or not is unclear. A woman hiking on the trail above the cave spots the situation and goes for help. The fellow is in the water approximately one hour. Coast Guard Bayfield pulls him from the water and the LifeLink helicopter from Duluth lands on Hwy 13 in Cornie to pick him up. Conflicting stories at this point say he was taken to Ashland via ambulance or helicoptered to Duluth. Makes no difference I guess. Bottom line was he didn't make it. Core temp of 77F alluded to above and the 10pm time of death were info from the NPS Ranger on duty at Meyers Beach this afternoon.
More to follow when I make a call or two in the morning. I have to stress this is unconfirmed but the basic story is consistent with all the folks we talked to. A similar incident happened in 2004, August to be exact. We were up there paddling that weekend also and information came out very slowly. Grant Herman from Living Adventures in Red Cliff wrote an excellent article in Sea Kayaker describing the situation. I would hope to provide some comment and analysis when I learn more.
The title of this blog is The Lake is the Boss. I believe that with all my heart and NEVER take Gitchee Gumee for granted.... in any situation. As our friend Silbs says at the end of each of his blogs, "Paddle Safe". Its our job in the kayaking community to continue to get the word out and educate people about the opportunity and danger that our inland sea, with 11% of the planets fresh water, affords us. We need to keep teaching people to paddle safe. More to follow.....
Quick update.......I found the article in the Duluth News Tribune this afternoon, Kayaker Dies of Hypothermia. One man died and the other was found incoherent on the rocks.