Sea kayakers will make history Sunday, June 21, 2009, when a flotilla of local and internationally-known paddlers launch from Washington Island to paddle across the notorious 3.7-mile open water passage known as Death’s Door. The Death’s Door Kayak Expedition will be the culmination of the first annual Washington Island Canoe and Kayak Event, June 19 – 21.
The weekend will include competitive, educational and social events, including a marathon kayak race circumnavigating Washington Island, beginner and intermediate races in Detroit Harbor, symposia on Lake Michigan Coastal Sea Kayaking and Environmental Education, as well as a traditional fish boil dinner and Awards Presentation.
Death’s Door Expedition kayakers will launch from the 600-foot “Potato Dock” pier on the southwest corner of Washington Island, skim the shoreline of Plum Island, and land at Northport. Spectators can follow the action from the launch site or aboard the Washington Island Ferry Line, as well as participate in a bird watching eco-tour with Sandy Petersen.
A marathon kayak race circumnavigating Washington Island will also be part of the event on Saturday, June 20. Erik Borges, elite kayaker from Sturgeon Bay and winner of the 2007 Chicago Shoreline Marathon says, “The marathon race route is wonderful…The isthmus between Rock Island and Washington Island is incredible – like the Bahamas with shades of green, blue and sand.”
Also on Saturday, participants can attend the Coastal Sea Kayaking Symposium to learn fundamental kayak skills from seasoned instructors. According to expedition co-leader and American Canoe Association certified instructor Tim Pflieger of Sturgeon Bay, participants’ readiness for the marathon and the Death’s Door crossing on Sunday will be determined by their experience and skill level, boat specifications and safety equipment, and weather conditions.
“Few have paddled Death’s Door, most would not try,” says event director and expedition co-leader Valerie Fons, whose paddling experience includes covering 21,000 miles from the Arctic Ocean to the southernmost tip of South America. “Crossing Death’s Door in a community of paddlers will be a lifetime achievement for many,” adds Fons.
The Washington Island Canoe and Kayak Event is a not-for-profit, volunteer-powered community effort organized through Lake Adventures Uniting Nature and Children with Hospitality Inc. (LAUNCH). Schedules, details and registration information for the Washington Island Canoe and Kayak Event are available at http://www.washingtonislandcanoeandkayakevent.com.