Saturday, October 24, 2009
Back in September a kayaker was lost off door county in Lake Michigan. He left Newport State Park and planned to paddle north toward Washington Island on a day trip. He never returned to his car and his kayak was found the next morning along the east shore of Rowley's Bay. He was reportedly wearing a white cotton T-shirt and blue jeans. I had not heard about the accident until the GurneyGranny sent me a link and told me that the fellow, John Kariger, lived in my hometown of Eau Claire and had lived in her neighborhood when she was growing up down the road in Osseo, WI. Last week in an eerily similar incident, a kayker went missing on the north shore of Lake Superior near Cove Point on Monday. His car with an empty kayak rack was found in the parking lot of the Cove Point Lodge and his kayak was found near Twin Points, a few miles southwest of there. His name is Doug W. and he is from Milwaukee. The authorities traced him using the serial number on his Impex kayak through an outfitter in Milwaukee. The Lake County sheriff said that Winter called his girlfriend about 9pm on Monday night and told her he was on the lake, could not see shore, and figured he was 2-3 miles out.
The scenario raises a lot of quetions for experienced kayakers. Was he wearing a pfd, wetsuit, drysuit, could he roll, and most importantly, what was he doing out alone after dark on one of the most treacherous bodies of water on the planet? Lots of questions according to another article on the accident published this morning in the Duluth Tribune, and it also said that his family is looking for answers. I know that for a fact. I got an email from his sister in San Diego yesterday afternoon. The Duluth paper stated that the search will begin again today, weather permitting. The lake is indeed the boss as we know. The Coasties are good, as I know from personal experience, but the more eyes the better. If kayakers and hikers along the north shore can keep their eyes open that would help a lot. I noticed in the photo of Doug's' boat that his bilge pump was still tucked in beside the seat. It looks like a well traveled kayak. There could be a paddle float, water bottle, deck bag, or other gear washed up along the shore that might help indicate where he is. I sent a note and a link to this blog to the North Shore Steelhead Association as well as the Superior Hiking Trail Association. The hikers get down to the lake and the steelhead guys are out of the lake chasing steelhead, browns, lakers, and salmon this time of year. Two of the most popular Harbors of Refuge are directly north and south of the area Doug disappeared in and the fishermen will be on the water this weekend for sure if the lake cooperates.
I know this area well and there are not a lot of places to get close to the water due to the rugged terrain. Once again if anyone is up there this weekend, spread the word and keep your eyes open. Depending on the wind and waves those along the south shore should be alert as well. When the kayak was found one of the first scenarios the authorities came up with was that the boat blew across from the Apostles. The family is looking for closure and anything that folks can do will be appreciated. Silbs has a piece on Doug in his post today as well, and it appears that the boat in the picture is indeed Dougs.