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Cold lake unkind

Tom Jackson • Apr 15, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Erie MetroParks Ranger Bill Graves stood in front of his kayaking class holding up a wet suit.

“This time of year, you have to wear a wet suit when you’re paddling,” he said.

Kayaking safety has become a pertinent issue after Jonathan Francis, 30, and his daughter, Viola Francis, 12, disappeared out on the lake near Crystal Rock on April 6 while on a short kayaking trip. The two left for their trip without wearing life jackets. Authorities fear the worst.

Graves, who taught a class on kayaking safety Sunday afternoon at the local parks system’s Coupling Reserve park in Milan Township, is a certified canoe and kayaking instructor.

Asked for a couple of safety tips every kayaker should know, he responded, “First of all, wear a PFD, a life jacket.” (PFD stands for “personal flotation device.”)

“Second of all, let somebody know that you’re going out, how long you’re going to be gone and where you’re going,” he said.

“One of the most important things to do is to take a course so you know what you’re doing,” he said.

Graves said he teaches kayaking safety classes at least once a month. Classes are announced at the Erie MetroParks website, eriemetroparks.org. And anyone who can get a group together may request a program, he said.

Be safe

The Cleveland office of the Coast Guard issued a warning on Friday, pointing out that while air temperatures are warming, Lake Erie’s water is still cold. The Coast Guard asked everyone to follow these safety tips:

*Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Wear a wet suit when the water is less than 72 degrees.

* Always, always wear a life jacket before going out on the water.

* Don’t drink and boat. Alcohol increases the risk of freezing if you end up in the water.

* Carry a marine radio and personal locator beacon with you, and let people know you’re going out on the water.

* Learn the basics of boating safety.


Information on kayak and canoe safety is available from the American Canoe Association, americancanoe.org.


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