Monday, October 26, 2009

Milwaukee Paddler Missing on Lake Superior (UPDATED)

I have read these reports on many occasions. This time it is different, this time it was someone I knew. I met Doug Winter a couple of years ago at Lacke & Joys Paddle fest where we were both working as safety boaters. This was the only time I met Doug but I remember him as a safe paddler and a great guy.
My heart goes out to Doug’s family and friends.

Link to latest like on Doug at the time of this post:

As the weather gets colder please be safe!



Friday, October 2, 2009

First Post - Why am I doing this?

When I started paddling several years ago I was lucky. I had two things going for me. The first was that I wasn't close enough to a really large body of water so it was really difficult for me to get into trouble. Second was those 4 years in the Navy drummed into me the value of wearing a PFD at all times. Other than that I had no clue about safe and enjoyable paddling. I went the local big box outdoor store and purchased a 14' boat and a cheap aluminum paddle. I had no idea about what a wet exit was or a rescue or anything. When I went out it was in a cotton tee shirt and shorts. I was lucky that I never figured out the folly of how I was dressed or why they call cotton the death fabric.

I bring up the following incidents because the first one has stuck with me over the last few years and the more recent one is unfortunately similar. I believe this is because there for either dumb luck or the grade of God there go I. 

I cannot imagine the pain that these incidents have caused family members and loved ones and my heart goes out to them.

A couple of years ago a gentleman went out on Lake Michigan in the boat he had recently purchased. From what I can gather he was just outside the break wall when he went in. Searchers would find his boat, paddle, and PFD very near the time of his disappearance however, it would be several months before his body was located. We can only guess what happened but a likely scenario was that he fell out of his boat and either wasn't wearing his PFD or was not able to re-enter his boat and removed the PFD in order to attempt a re-entry. What likely happened next was that he succumbed to hypothermia and drowned.

We now have another gentleman who has disappeared on Lake Michigan off of Door County. Details are still trickling in however some of the details are similar. The Coast Guard has located the boat but not the paddler. (See link for details)

How did I become a "safer" paddler?

I purchased my second boat through a local paddle shop and they sold me a book on paddling safety and rescue. I also started paddling with experienced paddlers who were 100% straight with me about safety and required that I know basic rescue techniques.

Why blog about this?

Easy, if it saves one life it will be worth it. Also, paddlers are some of the best people I know and getting to know more of them seems like a great proposition to me!

What does this have to do with a book club?

I believe that a book club offers a unique synergy between the knowledge contained in the many wonderful books about paddling and knowledge and experience of the club members.

I look forward to seeing what comes of this and meeting everyone!