Paul Bernard, USCG Veteran and administrator of the Facebook Group, U.S. Coast Guard Heartland Safe Boating provides important information on boating safety.
“This past week I went to Destin to work with a singularly incredible woman, Mrs. Judy Schink. In February her husband went for a quick kayak trip from their condo in Destin and never returned.
Tuesday I had the honor of facilitating the donation of David’s kayak to the Emerald Coast Science Center in Ft Walton Beach to become a part of their interactive recreational boating safety exhibit.
Widow of kayaker who disappeared near Destin spreads water safety awareness
“I am just really happy to find a home for it where it will do the most good and protect the most people,” said Schink. “It had a tragic ending for my husband but hopefully it will have a happy home here and people will not only enjoy it but learn greatly from it.”
Diane Fraser, Director of the Emerald Coast Science Center, says the kayak will join a display about boating safety. It details all the precautions that should be taken before hitting the water, and the potential dangers on the Gulf.
“This is the best way to honor his life and his legacy by using this as a teaching moment,” said Fraser. “This kayak represents that worst case scenario and the more that we can do ahead of time to prepare and the more informed we are, the more aware we are hopefully the less likely things like that will happen.”
Judy says she hopes the display will serve as a reminder that even the most seasoned swimmers, like David, can be caught off guard in the Gulf.
“It’s important because there’s so many tourists who come down here and are unaware,” said Schink. “We have discovered that there is a difference in water safety between the inland lakes in Minnesota versus Gulf safety – lots of little things – like kayakers down here will put a metal bar into their kayaks because the radar will ping it and pick it up and they’ll know where the kayaks are. And things like that really save lives.”
David’s family has raised more than $12,000 dollars through its David Schink Memorial Fund. The money will go toward several water safety initiatives Judy is currently discussing with the Coast Guard, and Destin and Okaloosa County leaders.