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Duluth man rescued after Lake Superior waves swamp kayak

A 43-year-old Duluth man learned the hard way Monday that when strong northeasternly winds blow, it's no time to be out on Lake Superior in a small boat.

According to authorities, the man set out alone Monday morning in a kayak from McQuade Safe Harbor and soon found the waves too much to paddle as he headed west toward Duluth. When the kayaker tried to turn around and return to the harbor, he capsized.

He couldn't right his kayak, so he got out of it and his kayak floated toward shore while he was stuck in a pocket, going nowhere, with the paddle still in hand, said Capt. Mark Herman of the Duluth Fire Department.

Unable to swim to shore and getting tired, the man waved to people on shore for help. Although the man wore a life jacket, it wasn't enough to keep his head above water with the waves breaking over him, Herman said

From the Lakeside fire station, Herman responded to the rescue call in the area of 8700 Congdon Boulevard at 11:30 a.m. People lined the shore, watching the drama unfold.

Donning a dry suit, Herman swam out to the man, who was about a half-block from shore. Herman threw him a life ring, grabbed the man's paddle and pulled the man to shore. Then Herman retrieved the kayak.

"He was cold and tired," Herman said of the rescued kayaker. The man, who wasn't injured, asked authorities not to release his name.

"He's embarrassed," Herman explained. After all, waters were too rough to be safely out on the lake on Monday, the firefighter said.