Three men will cross Lake Ontario on Stand Up Paddleboards this June. Jeff Guy, Joe Lorenz and Kwin Morris have already successfully paddled Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Erie. Lake Ontario represents their final journey across all five Great Lakes and is the culmination of an eight-year quest.
“We’ll begin our adventure from the shoreline of Toronto and touch the shore near Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Niagara in New York and then paddle back to Toronto,” says Kwin Morris. The 65-mile round trip is expected to take about 24 hours.
The trio was planning on doing the trip last year but the safety boat commitments dropped out. This year we’ve engaged Orange Force Marine Ltd. (www.orangeforcemarine.com), an experienced Canadian commercial marine services company based in Port Stanley, Ontario who provide maritime expertise and on-water safety support to many athletes on similar projects. “We have full confidence that this year we’ll accomplish our goal during the weather window of June 7-14,” says Morris.
“The weather is our biggest challenge,” says Joe Lorenz. “We can handle two to three foot waves for a couple hours but we’d prefer five knot tailwinds…both directions! Headwinds, chop and crosswinds are all elements we are accustomed to dealing with.”
“We wanted to do this trip for several years but, travel to Canada was restricted due to COVID,” says Morris, then the boat commitments fell through last year. In the meantime, we raised $21,000 on a paddleboard trip down the St. Mary’s River from the Soo Locks to Drummond Island. We teamed up with three 8th grade students from Cherryland Middle School in Elk Rapids who joined us on the journey.”
Guy, Morris and Lorenz founded a non-profit called Stand Up for Great Lakes. They have raised more than $80,000 for various Great Lakes non-profit organizations and have captured the imagination of many who have been inspired by their mission and support their cause.
This year, their goal is to raise $25,000. All funds will be donated to Stand Up For Great Lakes dedicated to protecting the Great Lakes Basin. “We’re focusing on helping the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR),” says Joe Lorenz. “CIGLR is a non-profit housed in the University of Michigan. They are doing spectacular work with algal bloom research and their efforts to safeguard the Great Lakes ecosystem. They are experts in Great Lakes issues, and we are thrilled to have them on board our team once again,” says Lorenz.
According to Mary Ogdahl of CIGLR, “Lake Ontario faces coastal flooding and water level issues, for which we are developing experimental models to prepare coast communities for future flooding.”
“Our overall goal is to bring awareness to great lakes issues,” says Jeff Guy. “Right now microplastics are infiltrating the lakes and fish and people are ingesting them. It’s one of the biggest issues of our day. The problem is the plastic is so small you cannot see it in many cases. Our hope is that people will join us in helping our cause by donating to our organization,” says Guy.
Each man carries all of his supplies on his own paddleboard: food, extra clothes, and straws that filter drinking water from the lake. There are many dangers they’ll face, aside from hypothermia and fatigue. High winds can crop up, leading to big waves, and they will pass through shipping lanes in the dark. During one paddle they faced hail and rain and on another the headwinds were so strong they actually went backwards.
The group will be escorted by two safety boats with an emergency medical technician (EMT) on one. Each paddler will wear a dry suit and PFDs (personal flotation devices).
Their first crossing was Lake Michigan in 2015, a 60 mile and just under 25-hour journey in 38-degree water. They raised $10,000 for the Great Lakes Alliance. In June 2017 they crossed Lake Huron and raised $7,000 for Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Their 90-mile paddle journey took over 28 hours to complete. In 2018 they paddled across Lake Superior in 21 hours. Their 60-mile trip began at Sinclair Cove, Ontario and ended at Whitefish Point, Michigan and raised $15,000 for the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. Their most recent trip across Lake Erie began in downtown Detroit’s Belle Isle and ended on the shores of Catawba Island, Ohio and raised $16,000 for the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research. (CIGLR)
About Jeff Guy: Guy, 37, is a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch. He also enjoys golf, hockey and fishing. He lives in downtown Traverse City, MI.
About Joe Lorenz: Lorenz, 37, is a personal trainer in Traverse City. When he’s not helping people achieve their fitness goals, he’s up for almost anything involving water, travel, sailing, adventure and fitness.
About Kwin Morris: Morris, 36, was born and raised in northern Michigan, making him a keen waterman, traveler, and adventurer. He is a middle school science teacher in the Elk Rapids School District and the owner of Twin Birch Golf Club.
About Corey Adkins: Adkins, 52, is the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Societies Communication and Content Director. Though he doesn’t stand-up paddleboard, he has captured the guys’ adventures across 3 of the 4 Great Lakes and 2 rivers, producing a series of 5 documentaries garnering him multiple awards including 2 Emmy’s. Adkins lives in McBain with his wonderful wife, Stephanie who also helps produce these stories!
About Stand Up for Great Lakes
It began with a love of water. The group has crossed four of the five great lakes by stand-up paddleboard and has raised more than $80,000 to help raise awareness of the issues facing the Great Lakes. The lakes are under threat. Oil pipelines of questionable integrity, invasive species, sewage leakage, pharmaceutical pollution, agricultural runoff, and those who choose to throw beer cans and cigarette butts wherever they please, the list of threats to these majestic and vital bodies of water is endless. We’re asking others to Stand Up for Great Lakes and provide support and encourage us on this important mission.
To donate visit: https://standupforgreatlakes.