Friday, May 12, 2006

To act or not to act
That is a good question
It happened a few days ago when Greg and I were out on Lake Michigan just off Bradford beach in Milwaukee in our skin on frame boats acting like Inuit wannabes. It was fairly warm, in the 60s, and we were enjoying our 2nd (in my case 3rd) childhoods while in search of norwalls and polar bears. Then we saw an all too common unfortunate site.
There were 3 of them, teen agers, and they were launching their kayaks onto our lake. They were classic: PFDs on rear decks, all cotton cloths, no pumps, no paddle floats and (as it soon became obvious) no forward stroke. The wind was blowing offshore. 2 were of the male gland, the other a girl.
Now, dear reader, comes the question: Do you intervene or keep your nose out of others business?
We did the former and told the girl (now 100 yards behind her testosterone driven pals) that if she fell in and was lucky enough to hang onto the boat, the wind would blow her offshore where she would die of hypothermia (water temps were still in the 40's). We paddled ahead and told her protectors the same. Happily, they soon turned about and got off of our lake.
A few moments later the wake of a passing power boat rocked us. We were sure that it would have dumped the 3 inexperienced paddle. We felt good about what we had done.
Some paddlers are hesitant to intervene as we did. I don't know why. If done tactfully (what else would you expect from Greg and myself?) good advice is usually accepted. If you don't act how will you feel when you read that a young girl died of hypthermia out on our lake?


Greg Fojtik said...

You forgot to mention they also had no sprayskirts. As I recall, you did all the talking. I was rather dumbstruck, which seems to be how most people prefer me. While you were providing edification, I was your little toady, "Yeah! What HE said!" You did well to take charge of the situation. If someone had gone over, they would have been in serious trouble immediately.

JohnB said...

Nicely done, I hate reading bad press about kayakers--thanks for intervention.