Michigan Video: Whether you are paddling a canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard or you are power boating in Northern Michigan waters, you’ll want to be aware of water temperature and respond with appropriate clothing and gear. When the water is 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, hypothermia can disable someone in the water in minutes if they aren’t wearing the proper gear. On average, water in Lake Michigan doesn’t pass the 60 degree F mark until mid to late June. So boaters should be looking at wetsuits or better all spring. Watch as Scott Wilson of Sailsport Marine in Leelanau County and Stephan Raths of Scuba North in Traverse City explain the different conditions that call for wet suits, dry suits and spray shirts.
The Traverse City Station of the U.S. Coast Guard has been working with MyNorth Media to educate the public about the risk of hypothermia in spring on the Great Lakes. Together MyNorth Media and the Coast Guard recommend spring boaters dress for the water weather, not the air temperature.
The coroner’s report indicated that expert paddler David Dickerson had six minutes before hypothermia set in when his canoe capsized and put him into 41 degree Fahrenheit water in Omena Bay in late April 2012. He was only wearing his life preserver, shorts and a fleece and he died of hypothermia.
“Once the Coast Guard gets the call, it takes 30 minutes for us to scramble a Search and Rescue helicopter,” says Cmdr. Joseph Buzzella, Traverse City Station of the U.S. Coast Guard. “The Coast Guard is fast; cold water is faster.”