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I write this in all seriousness. Talk to your teenage children and explain to them that no matter how fun it may seem, never steal a water bike. Our lake has seen far too many tragedies of drunk teenagers and young adults stealing water bikes and canoes in the wee hours of the morning.

Just this past weekend in Nyon two inebriated youngish men stole a pédalo at 5 am. They thought it would be cool paddle across the lake to France. What they didn’t realize is the plug keeping water from entering the pontoons had been removed; I assume to prevent late night joy rides. These men managed to paddle 150 meters from shore when their boat sank. One young man swam back to shore to find help while the other clung to a buoy.

At 5:30 in the morning, there are no boats on the lake. The police send an alarm to the surrounding lake police; as well as wake up the volunteer search and rescue groups. Between the currently cold water and the effects of alcohol, time is critical. I looked up the survival time in water at our current 12°-15° Celsius. According to one website, exhaustion occurs within 1-2 hours and death 1-6 hours.

Lucky for this young man he was found with minor hypothermia. In November 2007, I remember when four teenagers stole a pédalo in Geneva to get back to Lausanne at four in the morning. Again, there was no plug. The boat sank in 10°C water and 4°C air temperature. This time the event ended in tragedy.

I have a teenage son who goes out in the city with his friends. The fact of the matter is young men (and sometime young women) can come up with stupid ideas when they’ve been drinking with their friends. My son has been taught about respect of property but I have to admit after this latest theft and search & rescue;  I laid it out clearly to never steal a pédalo.

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to learn more about our activities and excursions, visit our website at www. aiwcgeneva.org

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