The loss of two young women in Casco Bay Sunday is a painful reminder that while warm weather has arrived, warm water has not.
The bodies of 18-year-old Irina McEntee and 20-year-old Carissa Ireland were found Monday morning, still wearing their life jackets, several miles from where they were last seen on Ram Island.
The two visitors to the state set off on an afternoon kayak trip Sunday, dressed in shorts and light shirts, from Peaks Island for Ram Island, about a mile away.
McEntee’s family has a summer place on Peaks, and her parents called the Coast Guard at 5:30 p.m. to report them missing.
Winds were 22 mph that afternoon, and a small-craft warning had been issued. The water was 48 degrees.
All of which would have been seen as warning signs by experienced kayakers preparing to make a mile-long open-water paddle.
Unfortunately, the sun was warm, the day pleasant the young ladies probably had no clue of the risk. They were likely dead even before the rescue call was placed.
McEntee was from Georgia and Ireland from New York state, and can be forgiven for not knowing better.
The same can’t be said for Mainers who can regularly be seen on inland bodies of water apparently oblivious to the danger at this time of year.
A person without a personal flotation vest, a paddle float, pump and re-entry skills could be just as dead in the middle of Lake Auburn as the middle of Casco Bay.
Spring always seems to bring a spate of cold-water drownings. Without skills, the right clothing and equipment, most paddlers would be well advised to hug the shore.