Cold water impacts swimming, boating

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:34 PM

Because of record ice cover during the past winter, Lake Michigan and inland lakes are warming up much slower than normal, according to meteorologist Wayne Hoepner of the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids.


Water that would typically be in the 60 degree range the week after Memorial Day is at about 48 to 52 degrees.


“I have not seen a single person in the water yet,” Grand Haven State Park employee Amanda Taylor said. “The cooler air and cooler water temperature is definitely taking its toll. I remember last summer it was a lot busier than it is now.”


Taylor estimates attendance is down 15 percent compared to this time last year. 


With a cool breeze off the lake, it feels even cooler than temperatures may indicate, she noted.


“We do have people out in bating suits, but they don't stay out for very long and they usually have a cover-up,” Taylor said. “I wish people would come out and visit us and play in the sand. We're looking around at each other saying 'this is ridiculous, we have nothing to to.' There's nobody littering, nobody using the bathroom...”


And there aren't many people using boats, either, according to Pam Dykstra, office assistant at Keenan Marina in Ferrysburg.


“Because of the winter we had, we're basically still getting boats in,” she said. “We weren't overwhelmed with customers.”


Keenan customer Wayne Vaupel said his boat is in much later than normal.


“I've been out but I haven't been swimming yet,” Vaupel said as he cleaned his 40-foot Pacemaker Sportfish. “Normally, I'd be swimming by now.”


The boating season appears to be lagging about three weeks behind typical years, Dykstra noted. She said with so much snow in the parking lot, it was impossible to get to some of the boats that were shrink wrapped and stored there.


And even when the snow melted, temperatures weren't conducive to being on the water.


“More people are sitting at their slips, and our in and out service has been a little slower, too,” Dykstra said.


To read more of this story, read Saturday's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


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