The signs are for safe practices to consider before setting out on a journey that could possibly put kayakers and others into harm’s way.
These signs were developed from actual experiences that authorities have encountered with kayak rescues over the years and were one of a few feasible ideas that came from a multi-agency meeting held at the Port Austin Fire Hall in July.
Sheriff Kelly Hanson called that meeting in response to the many rescues so far this year and other issues that the ever increasing popularity of kayaking had developed in Huron County.
Besides the Huron County Sheriff’s Office, in attendance were representatives from Port Austin Fire, Port Austin Police, Port Austin Village, Port Austin Twp., Pt Aux Barques Twp., Port Austin Kayak and Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Others invited but unable to attend were representatives from three area shoreline residential associations and the Huron County Road Commission.
The goal is for kayakers to take heed of these advisories and to educate the novice or those unfamiliar to the area. This is in hopes of alleviating many of the safety and trespassing concerns. This year between the Huron County Sheriff’s Office and the Port Austin Fire Department, around 70 kayakers have been assisted to shore after Huron Central Dispatch was called.
Even though many of the 70 were in or very close to an emergency situation, about 6 actually were in a predicament that was basically the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, one kayaker lost his life on the east side of Huron County to an incident in July, as well as another had died a year before.
So far this year tripled the amount of tickets tripled written to kayakers for no life jackets and have issued many warning tickets to those getting ready to launch without one.
The Township of Pt. Aux Barques has had to add extra shore patrols over the year before and has issued trespassing tickets to a few who ventured too far onto private property.
Injuries on the rock formations of that area requiring an ambulance for a couple of kayakers also occurred.
Numerous incidents of stranded kayakers needing to be taken to their guard house to be picked up at the entrance of their private community were also reported. And nearly 1,000 vehicles wanting to see the Turn Up Rock were turned away at that entrance throughout the summer. It was further claimed as of the 27th, nearly 5,000 kayaks had been observed transiting their shore this summer. This works out to over 80 per day on average.
At this point the focus for the signage is on the Port Austin area and additional signage could possibly come before next summer.