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After a family raid on Lake Superior, a plea for kayak safety

The fateful kayaking off the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, with all but one member of a Wisconsin family member killed on Thursday, would have been exhausting even for a highly trained kayaker, regional experts said.

It was a sobering reminder of the vastness and danger of the Great Lake, and the precautions that visitors must take if they choose to paddle it, said Bob Krumenaker, the Superintendent of the National Islands of the Apostle Islands Saturday.

"This is a good place to learn By the way, it's probably the safest part of Lake Superior to do this," he said. "That does not mean it's Lake Minnetonka."

Cari Mews-Fryman, Eric Fryman and their three children holidaying in Madeline Island on the South Shore set off on a 1

3 ½-foot, open tandem kayak Thursday afternoon

They had decided Offshore, far from the sheltered shoreline, Paddle to Michigan Island. Hours later, when their kayak capsized somewhere between the islands of Stockton and Michigan, they jumped into the water to go ashore.

They never did it.

Only Mews-Fryman survived by the family through the waves and rescuers that evening. The bodies of the other members of the family were taken out of the waves in the middle of a night storm.

All wore life jackets. Coast Guard officials said hypothermia probably had a large share in the deaths of children in particular.

Ashland County (WI) Sheriff authorities were unable to reach on Saturday.

Krumenaker, whose small staff in the rescue effort, said the islands are mostly undeveloped and wooded, with rocky shorelines and long distances between each island.

"Some of the places people want to go kayaking are incredibly attractive, but also deceptively dangerous," he said. "This particular incident happened in a place that is not often crossed by kayaks, and with good reason."

When paddlers are in open water while crossing between the islands, they are exposed to strong winds and waves. Storms can also come quickly, but are usually predicted, such as the one that happened on Thursday night.

Gail Green, the director of Living Adventure, an outfitter in Red Cliff, Wisconsin who specializes in kayaking in the region, wrote in 2013 in an article "It's not just another lake to the north" about the vibrant nature from Superior Lake.

"When it comes to formulating recommendations for paddling on the Apostle Islands, local outfitters and agencies are in a dilemma as they draw a line between cautious warning and full encouragement," she wrote.

She described the lake as an "inland sea" exposed to strong winds and high waves.

"When people come up here, they really have to move their frame of reference," she said. "As soon as you leave country and go out to the islands, everything goes forward."

Paddlers need to be aware of the weather conditions, the length of their journey and their own experience, Krumenaker said.

A red flag What Green immediately noticed on the Thursday incident was the type of boat the family used. Open or sit-on-top kayaks and canoes are good for sunny days on the shore, but they do not fare well against the elements and can fill with water and capsize.

Both Green and Krumenaker recommend sea kayaks that have splashbacks around the body keeping the water out. Some even have oars to guide the kayak against strong winds.

Paddlers should also wear appropriate clothing, such as wet suits, which can protect against hypothermia.

Krumenaker said seafarers should practice capsizing what Green's company does with paddlers before overnight trips. "You have to have a healthy respect for how cold the water can be," he said.

Emergency supplies such as food, torches and a radio are also recommended for longer trips, Green said.

& # 39; Sad and Gloomy

Thursday's tragedy has deeply affected the riverbanks. "There is just such a sad and gloomy feeling," said Green. "It is such a tragedy in our [field] that on the other hand can bring so much joy and joy."

Living Adventure once leased kayaks to people who took safety courses, she said. She stopped renting kayaks as more people of varying levels of experience paddled in the area.

"We can not give people enough information in three hours to keep them safe out there," she said. "It pays to pay only for a guided tour for the first time."

For those who want to learn kayaking and explore the region on their own, they recommend research.

"There's a big reward for paddling in Lake Superior," she said, "but it's not free. They must do the work to be sure. "

Labor Day Weekend is usually the second most popular time past July 4 for the Apostle Islands, Krumenaker said.

" We all want who comes here to kayak he said, "knowing that the lake is dangerous, I think is really an important part of the experience."

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