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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Poe
Opinion Editor

My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Kayak safety important

With the recent arrival of warm weather, the sparkling blue water of Lake Superior has never looked more inviting.

NMU students and community members have taken advantage of the spring heat wave by partaking in various outdoor activities, such as kayaking along Lake Superior’s rugged shoreline.

Sam Crowley, kayak instructor at Marquette’s YMCA, would like to inform outdoor enthusiasts about the safety precautions involved with kayaking so everyone can have a positive experience on the lake.

“I want people to be respectful of the power of Lake Superior,” Crowley said. “It can be dangerous, but if you’re prepared you can either avoid that danger or you can get yourself out of it.”

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Crowley was inspired to relay his message of safety to the community after hearing about the death of an unprepared 24-year-old kayaker on Lake Michigan earlier this spring.

“Peter Dougherty paddled a lot on Lake Michigan and was considered to be an experienced kayaker,” Crowley said. “Unfortunately he was not wearing the proper clothing and was unable to get back into his boat once it had capsized.”

During his kayaking lessons at the Y, Crowley stresses the importance of wearing the necessary gear.

His students are outfitted with wetsuits or drysuits, even in the summer, if they are kayaking on Lake Superior.

Crowley said the idea behind the wetsuit is that it will give the kayaker enough time before they get so cold that they can’t help themselves.

Rescues are often covered in Crowley’s lessons as well. He demonstrates how to rescue someone who has capsized in addition to handling the boat when kayaking alone.

“Knowing about the rescues and wearing the right clothing can help kayakers avoid unsafe situations,” Crowley said.

Crowley also recommends having a float plan before heading out into the water. This involves contacting a trustworthy friend and letting them know the time and location of the launch.

Estimate a return time and if it is not met, then the friend can notify authorities to begin a search. One of the best ways kayakers can avoid risky situations is by checking the weather forecast, especially this time of year.

“In the spring, the weather can change very quickly; the wind can go from being flat calm to suddenly blowing very hard,” Crowley said. “On Lake Superior, little waves can change to large white caps in only a few minutes.”

Mark Flemming, a photography major, said he enjoys spending time on many of the inland lakes and rivers in the area.

“There’re so many opportunities to a kayak or canoe in Marquette,” Flemming said. “It’s a great way to explore the area, other than hiking.”

Although Flemming does not venture out onto Lake Superior, he takes safety precautions of his own before going on an adventure.

“I make sure to have a dry bag with extra clothes in it and I always have a life jacket,” Flemming said.

Natasha Piper, biology major and ORC employee said a great way for students to familiarize themselves with kayaks and canoes is to participate in one of the ORC’s workshops held in the fall.

“While we don’t offer particular classes, we do have a few workshops that are held on some of the smaller lakes in the area,” Piper said. “If students have any questions we are there to help them out.”

ORC boats are not allowed on Lake Superior because they are not suited for such big waters, Piper said.

Crowley hopes that his message will help prepare fellow kayakers for the risks involved so they can enjoy all that Lake Superior has to offer without having any doubts or fears.

“Lake Superior has so much magic waiting to be seen,” Crowley said. “When people go out there, I want to make sure they come back and have had a great experience.”

For more information about kayaking lessons, call the YMCA at (906) 227-9622.

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