Cold Water and Strong Wind... Seen This Yet?

No mention of life jackets. More heartbreak for a family that’s had plenty.


According to the local paper, an incredibly sad story… kids were playing with a ball, which went in the water. Mom and 8-year old son jumped in a canoe that was sitting there and went to retrieve the ball.

It was wicked windy, with gusts to 30 mph. Maybe they were in a sheltered cove, but waves on the Chesapeake were 2 - 3 ft. NW wind would have pushed them out there very quickly. Even for seasoned, prepared canoeists, those would have been very challenging conditions.

The canoe was found near Deale, which is about ten miles south of Annapolis. As of Saturday, CG was still searching for the bodies.

so sad

1 Like

In Sunday’s Washington Post, there was a story about this incident ( I didn’t read) and a related story about wind and cold water. The latter story cites as a source for info about paddling a canoe in waves and wind. Who knew we are authorities to be cited by a national news outlet?

Yeah, saw it. Decided against posting it here because it was being covered everywhere, and it is one of those obvious strings of unfortunate choices.

Agree with some above, feel sorry that this family cannot seem to get a break.

I had a good conversation with my wife about this. She’s not a paddler. I told her that most all of us have a wake up moment or two where the power of the wind and the waves and the current gets very clear very suddenly. If we’re lucky we survive it and learn and grow from it. Just dumb luck.


Yup, anyone who has been on big or moving water long enough has had a nearly-came-to-Jesus event. My closest one was also pure dumb luck, if the wind had been blowing south rather than east it’d have had a totally different outcome.

This spring, with less traffic on the water, is going to be considerably more dangerous for the newbies I think.

While it’s flattering to have quoted as a source of safety info I also think it’s unfortunate.

  1. It’s another reminder that there is no broadly recognized central source of paddling safety information.

  2. You could search and study this site for hours and you’d probably never find warnings about something as fundamental as avoiding getting into a canoe when you are inexperienced and there is a strong wind blowing away from shore.

  3. The newspaper article doesn’t even mention the lack of PFD’s so another good opportunity for teaching/learning/prevention is lost. It seems pretty clear that PFD’s would likely have saved their lives.

Life jackets would definitely have bought them some time but a better citation would have been the National Center for Cold Water Safety.

The lake I live on is still 99% ice. It has receded from the shore maybe 30 feet in one small section. Was astounded this afternoon when I saw someone in a kayak paddling that area. No life jacket. No drysuit or other appropriate clothing. No gloves. Bumped into the ice in front of my place then turned around and headed back. Only one summer cabin is occupied in that area, owned by a family from the metro Detroit area who took residence there late last month.

They don’t know what they don’t know.

We just had a local kayaker drowning on a lake that I consider to be a puddle. The lake is quite shallow and most of it is very sheltered. It is impossible to get too far from shore. I don’t know all of the circumstances, but apparently the victim wasn’t wearing a pfd and had been drinking. What could go wrong?


Do you know if the person could swim? Something like 30% of drownings happen in water that someone could stand up in. It is nonswimmers who don’t worry about slipping under then are so panicked when they do they never get a footing. My stepmother is a nonswimmer, saw her nearly drown just that way once. Slipped standing in the shallow end of the pool and had to be yanked out because she started flailing and sinking,

Even “knowing how to swim” is ambiguous. I’ve been working part time as a lifeguard at a local YMCA and just a couple months ago I had to rescue a woman that fell off her pool noodle in the shallow end during an exercise class. She freaked out and panicked in 4 feet of water. Later she told me that she knows how to swim but is afraid of the water due to a bad childhood experience. I bet many people that say they know how to swim can get in trouble quickly if they capsize in open water.

I do like the site. I sent the link to our local news stations after we lost a kayaker on January 1st but they didn’t show it on TV.

All I know is what a sheriff deputy told me about the drowned person. I’m pretty sure he said that the guy didn’t know how to swim. The deputy I talked to was not in on any of the investigation–if there was one. I assume all of his information was second hand at best.

The whole thing leaves me baffled because of all the places around here for someone to have a problem in the water, this lake is pretty low on the danger chart. My guess is that there is a pretty good chance that the person could have just stood up as you alluded to.

The news paper said the guy was just 28 years old and had served in the military. Such a tragic waste.

Could have been cold shock, especially if he had been drinking.

I doubt cold water shock in that shallow if water.

Until you have seen someone who is a non or questionable swimmer freak out in shallow water, you are not likely to understand. It is a truly incomprehensible response to anyone who is comfortable even just doing a really secure dog paddle.

I know someone who was a solid swimmer, swam in an ocean bay as a kid (no undertow), until they got freaked out one time in some minor moving water in their 40’s. Apparently no one told them to expect to take a short ride. They have been too freaked out to swim since.

That is why you need to be aware of the signs of someone who is really unable to think when you go in for a rescue. They will happily drown you along with themselves.

1 Like

Even being a strong and confident swimmer won’t save you in rapidly changing conditions.

We lost two family members one warm August day 27 years ago in Lake Michigan. Father and son (my cousin’s family) lived in a popular tourist beach town and would swim nearly every day during the warm months, both were fit and comfortable in the water. They headed out one afternoon when they saw some good looking waves for body surfing. While they were out past the breakwater one of those crazy out-of-nowhere storms blew in, the sky darkened and the water became a wild maelstrom. Reconstruction of the event suggested the dad headed in but saw his 14 year old son being swept farther off shore and went out after him. The dad’s body was found battered against the stone breakwater shortly after the storm passed. Searchers found the son’s body more than 2 miles off shore 6 days later. Actual duration of the storm event was less than an hour and they said once the front passed the sun came out and the lake was like glass.

In that case the only thing that could have saved them would have been being more attentive to weather projections. But had they been paddlers with PFD’s in those circumstances (warm water and a very short period of bad conditions) they probably could have survived, even if they lost their boats, and swam to shore or been picked up by rescue. The critical aspect being PFD’s.

I read the annual water sport death rolls reported by my State’s fish and boat commission every year. Most of the deaths occur in warm flatwater ponds and small rivers in this mostly inland state. A predictable percentage are alcohol related but a disturbing number are what seem to be solo fishermen (usually older males) who are found dead and capsized sans a PFD, often in water in which they should have easily been able to swim or even walk to shore

My cousin was interviewed about the drowning and the importance of being aware of the weather notices on a local TV station last year:

Sorry to hear this story. Two Kennedys were just lost.
I refuse to paddle with people that won;t wear PFDs.