Steven Langlais of New Gloucester apparently “was trying to do everything right” on the kayaking trip in which he lost his life last weekend, a top official of the Maine Marine Patrol said Thursday.

Langlais paddled from Scarborough Marsh to Bluff Island on Saturday morning, the day after his 51st birthday. He never got back to the mainland. Maj. Alan Talbot, deputy chief of the Marine Patrol, said the cause of Langlais’ death was accidental drowning.

Marine Patrol Sgt. Dan White, who is investigating the accident, said he is still working on his report and may not be able to say definitively what happened because Langlais was alone on the trip.

Langlais was initially reported to be an experienced kayaker. Coast Guard officials said that was based on a report by the woman who called to say that Langlais was late getting back to land.

They said later that Langlais was not experienced. Friends said Langlais bought his kayak during the winter and had gone out in it only once before making his first ocean trip in it Saturday.

White said Langlais had a 16-foot kayak with a rudder, “not a little pond kayak that’s 10 or 12 feet long.” A larger kayak is more stable in heavier seas, and a rudder aids in steering.

Talbot and White noted that Langlais was wearing a wetsuit, which would give him some protection against the cold water, and a life vest. He also had a cellphone, stored in a container that should have been waterproof, although it evidently leaked.

Kayaking experts would have suggested a drysuit, for greater protection against hypothermia. Friends said they weren’t sure if Langlais had learned self-rescue techniques, to right himself after the kayak tipped. Experts also caution against kayaking alone.

Experts suggest that kayakers tell others about their plans. Langlais told friends where he was going and posted his plans on Facebook. That meant his friends knew he was due back in the early afternoon and were able to report by mid-afternoon that he was overdue.

After a friend reported him overdue, the Coast Guard began a search. Langlais’ kayak was found in the surf at Higgins Beach in Scarborough shortly before 7 p.m., and his body was spotted about a half-mile offshore a few minutes later.

It’s unknown if Langlais checked out the weather. White said weather reports and pictures that Langlais took with his cellphone on the island and posted to Facebook suggested it was calm and winds were light Saturday morning. However, about 1 or 2 p.m., White said, the wind began to pick up and seas began to build, with swells of 2 to 4 feet.

He noted that by 7 p.m., when searchers were out in small boats looking for Langlais, “it was real rough” because of stronger winds. It’s not uncommon, on warm days like Saturday, for winds to shift and build in the afternoon, White said.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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