Three men finish Lake Erie trip on paddle boards

Scott Lorenz

Three paddleboarders, Kwin Morris, Jeff Guy and Joe Lorenz landed on the shores of Catawba Island, Ohio on the morning of June 19, braving almost 20 hours of headwinds to finish their 24-hour, 70-mile journey across Lake Erie.
        The trip was part of the paddlers’ Stand Up for Great Lakes project, intended to raise awareness about environmental issues in the region.
        Wearing Detroit Red Wing jerseys, their journey began on Belle Isle, Michigan, leaving around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18th.
        Joe Lorenz said the crossing started off smoothly, but the trio soon encountered almost "20- 23 hours of straight headwinds for the rest of the paddle." “Sometimes we paddled as hard as we could and were actually going backwards. Then at times during our rests the wind blew us back, losing ground we had already covered.”
        The trio traversed international waters and passed by 800+ foot freighters and other boat traffic, all in an effort to raise awareness of Great Lakes environmental issues. They begin their adventure at Belle Isle State Park, home of the Dossin Great Lakes Museum and ended at Catawba State Park in Ohio not far from Sandusky.
        In 2018 the trio crossed Lake Superior on paddleboards and raised $15,000 for the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in the process. That trip challenged the men with cold waters and waves from passing freighters.
        “We had a current in the Detroit River of eight to ten knots, not to mention the ricochet waves from the shoreline along the river in the Livingston Channel,” says Kwin Morris, but our biggest nemesis was the headwind.”
        “We’re comfortable in 2-3 foot waves, but we want to avoid larger waves as much as possible,” says Morris.
        They have now successfully paddled across four of the five Great Lakes. Next up: Lake Ontario.
        On the Lake Michigan crossing, 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. Last summer 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.
        Each paddleboarder carried all of his supplies on his own paddleboard: food, extra clothes, and straws that filter drinking water from the lake. There were many dangers they faced, aside from hypothermia and fatigue. Un-forecasted 10 knot winds cropped up, requiring the men to paddle twice as hard to literally stay in place.
        To give their families peace of mind, they took precautions, such as having two safety boats follow them, with an emergency medical technician onboard one.  They also brought Emmy Award Winning Photojournalist Corey Adkins with them to capture the event.
        “Corey is a master storyteller. He’s already shown us some terrific footage from the paddle not to mention some was already broadcast live on 9&10 News,” says Guy.
        The men researched Lake Erie to decide where to donate the money they raised. They spoke with Duane Gossiaux, a biologist at Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, who specializes in studying Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms (HABs), and he directed them to the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR).
        “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 were thrilled to have them on board our team,” says Lorenz.
        Algal blooms, (also called algae blooms) usually caused by runoff pollution, can impact both marine and human health, and are an annual threat to more than 11 million people through their drinking water and recreational boating, fishing and swimming. The paddleboarders raised $15,000 for CIGLR and their continuing research and protection of Lake Erie surpassing their original goal of $10,000.
        “Our overall goal is to help keep the Great Lakes awesome,” says Jeff Guy. “Our hope is that people will join us in donating to this great cause.”
                For more information or to make a donation, visit and follow the team on and on Watch the award-winning documentary about their Lake Superior Crossing


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