Pictured Rocks kayaker deaths

Current water temp is 65.

Even 65°F can be bad for survival. I’m in wetsuit or dry when water is 65 or lower. Truth is I like the drysuit better last 5 years and don’t bother with the wetsuit or I guess really farmer John and top. . Two VHF radios and cell with me.

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I wish details would be given about the type of kayaks they paddled. Both were in their 60s but there’s no other info about them.

I’ve read that the lake started the day calm because there was a strong south (offshore) wind. Wind direction changed later and created 3+ foot waves. Another report mentioned their bodies were recovered several miles offshore.

Not a happy ending to what had been planned as a fun day.

So sad. It seems like “the weather changed” is one of the most common factors in paddling tragedies.

You probably have weather channels on them. I bet you wear them too I learned to do that after three kayakers died after getting separated from their radio.
What really blows my mind is not planning ahead . Weather forecasts are useful!
I agree an offshore wind is deceiving and kayakers I have heard of pre internet also have been duped into false appearances.
There are free wind forecast apps. While not exact they can be very useful.
i can’t wrap my head around if there were small craft warnings why they didnt heed them.
On that lake …Edmund Fitzgerald or rec kayak. doesnt matter .


I wear one VHF on my PFD, one VHF on my deck bag, cell phone on my deck bag. First thing on my boat or kayak I put the weather on the VHF. Check the weather apps, look at windy.com. All that said things can change. Colder the water the less risk I take. I stay out at night it has to be water above 65° fairly calm water. 65° water I’m in my drysuit.

Was out last week 20+ mph and against a decent tide I was doing 2+2.5 mph at a pace I could hold for 1-2 hr. I think I’m a fairly strong paddler others may not be as strong. I’m no hero and pessimistic. Seventy seven people drowned on the great lakes this year I could believe it.

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65* water requires at minimum a 1.5mm full wetsuit for me to be comfortable paddling surfski, and that accounts for me being out of the water the majority of the time.

If I know its a big day Im almost always in my 3/2 Oneill Hyperfreak (their nice double seam sealed version which makes a big warmth difference).
The 3/2 keeps me toasty in water down to water in the mid 50’s. Unless its very cold (for SoCal, which is like 50* air temp, lol) I need to take a swim every 20-30 minutes to cool off. But I do this because I always go out expecting the need to survive for unknown hours after my boat folds in half from 6’+, possibly breaking, open water swell.
And in 50* air with 55* water and strong wind as would be expected in our winter, a 3/2 is marginal for extended swims. Surfers or other in-water types would likely be in a 4/3 with hood or the cold swimmers may be in a 5/4.

Sad story. As usual, they probably didnt know what they didnt know and in this case it cost them dearly. Condolences to their families.

60* water is some of the most dangerous because its cold enough to incapacitate or kill relatively fast, but not so cold it sets off alarm bells of “Danger, cold water, I definitely need protection!”. This story is why we are all naysayers to the noobs. What you dont know can easily kill you when things go wrong.


My water temp sources say it was 61F. Pictured Rocks is a beautiful location with an exceptionally unforgiving shoreline. This was another very preventable tragedy. My condolences to friends and family.

I read this morning that the deceased were paddling 11’ kayaks.

It is incidents like this that cause me to cringe whenever I hear novice paddlers (and even some more “experienced” ones who should know better) spurn safety practice and equipment recommendation advice because “we are only going to paddle in mild conditions.” Anyone truly familiar with the Great Lakes, especially Michigan and Superior, which are exposed to the weather systems that come down from the Arctic across the Canadian plains, KNOWS that conditions on them are mercurial and can change from glass smooth to raging wind and waves in minutes.

We lost two beloved family members in Lake Michigan from such a storm nearly 30 years ago. The father and teen son were swimming at their hometown beach on what seemed a perfect late August afternoon with mild surf when one of those tempests out of nowhere blackened the sky and caught them offshore in steep confused waves. Both were strong and fit but apparently the son was getting swept out and his dad tried to go after him. Shortly after the brief storm blew itself out (in less than an hour), the dad’s body washed up on the beach, battered from having been smashed on the rocky breakwater. His son was found 6 days later nearly 2 miles out.


I’ve been told that the most dangerous four words are “I’m just going to …”

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I was wondering.

Sad for their families.

Me scared E :smiley_cat:

Love my pessimism.

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Its not like they weren’t told.

“Kayaking - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (U.S. National Park Service)” Kayaking - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (U.S. National Park Service)


Wow! That is pretty specific.

Offshore winds are always deceiving. Pair them with an outgoing tide and the result is predictable. Either you are fortunate to find a buoy to hang onto or you wash up on a shore.
Or not.
This area is certainly not the only one subject to people being fooled.

Lake Superior has tides? I didn’t know that.

yes but not noticeable:

### Do the Great Lakes have tides?

Sort of…

Studies show that the Great Lakes do experience a tidal pattern twice a day, during which the water level changes. But this change is really tiny- [only 4-5cm in height](https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/gltides.html) during the largest tide. This height change is so minor, that they are often outdone by other fluctuations in water levels that are caused by the weather.

As a result, the Great Lakes are generally considered “non-tidal.”

Believe me, they are noticeable. The Pere Marquette channel in Ludington flows backwards at times. And if you’re unfortunate enough to be out in a seiche or catch a rip current, you could be in for a long ride. I’ve also watched downrigger cables blast left or right or forward on current seams around Big Point Sable and Little Point Sable. My Lake Michigan paddles (open canoe) are all near shore in low bank areas. It’s about drysuit time here, especially after the north winds and upwellings last week.

I raced offshore boats from Canada to Key West. Roughest races I were ever in were in Grand Haven MI.

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