Kayak mishap on Sandusky Bay a cautionary tale

Steve PollickYesterday, my buddy Steve Hathaway and I made our first attempt of the season at spring jigging for walleye just offshore in the Davis Besse area of western Lake Erie.

To spare you the long grief, it was cold – air and water temperature both – then the wind picked up, and no nets were flying amid the pack of 50-plus boats strung out along the near-shore reefs. We quit, fishless, in 45 minutes in our small boat; we are not heroes.

We both were wearing life vests, even before we left the dock. You won’t last 30 minutes in 40-something water, the Other Steve said. He would know, having been a watercraft officer in his former life.

While we fished we talked about the loss of that 30-year-old father and 12-year-old daughter last weekend on Sandusky Bay, apparently drowned during a “short” kayak trip. No life vests – just a quick trip. How sad.

Yet how simple a message, how easily ignored – wear a life vest or a float coat when on the water.

Every spring the Ohio Division of Watercraft embarks on a campaign, typically accompanied by a slogan, to entice watercraft users to do the smart thing. It is tragic that it takes loss of life, so young, to hammer home the point about safety, safety, safety.

We just don’t think. We think we are immortal. We think that accidental death is for the other guy. Last summer my spouse Peggy and I joined a flotilla of perhaps six couples in kayaking the Au Train River in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Some of us – we two for sure – wore life jackets. Some of the folks did not.

The Au Train is small as rivers go, but it is snaky in its course, and fast. You simply cannot rely on your swimming skills in a spill. But like I said, we humans are immortal, careless. On this trip the vestless companions were lucky, cheated death again.

In a related safety tale, son Aaron was working with sheet metal last weekend, installing an attic fan. A construction veteran, he knows better and wears protective gloves when handling the razor-edged stuff. But he had his gloves off for a minute and tried to do one quick adjustment – and sliced an index finger deeply. He knew better, and still…

In their subconscious, a father and daughter knew better as well last weekend on Sandusky Bay. And they didn’t listen to that little precautionary bell ringing in the back of their heads.  How sad, how very very sad. Wear your life vests out there. Please.

Categories: Ohio – Steve Pollick

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