Is Wisconsin’s Nudist Beach In Jeopardy?

nudist Apparently, gourmet cheese, good beer and the Green Bay Packers aren’t the only things attracting visitors to Wisconsin. In fact, the state boasts one of the country’s largest non-coastal nudist beaches, Mazo Beach, which brings in about 70,000 naturists per year. Unfortunately, the hot spot is currently facing opposition from protesters, politicians and conservative locals.

Recently, numerous arrests have been made in the surrounding forests, as officers have caught people having sex outdoors. Additionally, problems with sex and drugs on the beach are also causing outrage. Well-behaved frequenters of Mazo Beach now fear the end of their clothing-optional haven, despite years of cooperating with the state.

Although it is illegal in Wisconsin to “publicly and indecently” expose one’s genitals, many state and county officials have argued simply being nude at Mazo Beach is not enough to write a citation. That is, unless there is some kind of lewd contact. Despite pastor-led protests and Republican lawmakers attempting to ban the beach, it has remained.

To help get Mazo Beach out of its current position, the area has added extra security to patrol the beach. Losing the nudist-friendly site would be devastating to many who think of it as a second home.

For Claudette Richards, 58, a lifetime visitor to Mazo Beach, it is the place where she was able to come to accept her body, even after her mastectomy. She says, “It’s a place to be who I am.”

[Image via Big Stock]

New Zealand’s Award-Winning Nudist Resort Now On Sale

nude resort Have you ever dreamed of owning an award-winning resort? How about an award-winning nudist resort? If your answer is yes, your chance has come, as New Zealand‘s Katikati Naturist Park is now on sale. The only rule: the new owners must keep the park clothing-optional for at least 10 years.

Owners Kevin and Joan Sampson began the naturist resort in 1996, and it ended up being very successful. Each year, the property attracts 16,000 people. Moreover, in 2008 it won a “Tourism Industry Association” award for holiday parks. Now, however, the Sampsons have decided to explore other things, although they still plan to visit the resort as guests.

“It would take somebody who understands the naturist ethos to run it successfully. I don’t think non-naturists would feel comfortable,” explains the couple.

For those interested, the property is selling for $1.48 million.

[Image via Katikati Naturist Park]

Nudists Cause Controversy On Welsh Beach

nudistsCefn Sidan beach in Pembrey, Wales, is the latest flashpoint in an ongoing controversy over nudists in the UK.

The local government says it has received numerous complaints about bathers baring all at the eight-mile-long beach. The spot is a favorite for families and attracts more than a million visitors a year, most of who wear bathing suits. There have been complaints about nudists “approaching” non-nudists, and also reports of inappropriate behavior.

The local government has put up signs forbidding nudity and threatens to prosecute violators. However, nudist organizations have pointed out that being naked in public is not illegal in the UK and that the local council’s ruling is thus illegal.

Nudism is a legal gray area in the UK. While simply getting naked isn’t a criminal offense, nudists have been prosecuted for using their nudity “to harass, alarm or distress others.” This rule is vague enough to be applied to a wide range of cases and of course depends on the sensitivity of the person making the complaint.

Nudism seems to cause controversy every year in the UK. One nudist hiker in Scotland has been jailed repeatedly, with his latest sentence being for 21 months. A nudist B&B in Staffordshire, England, has caused many neighbors to complain.

What do you think of nudism in public places? Should it be allowed? Would you go to a nude beach? Tell us what you think in the comments section!

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons. This photo actually shows Haulover Beach, an official nudist beach in Florida.

Enjoy nudist hiking? Rethink that holiday in Switzerland

nudist hikingLast year we reported on a major victory for nudist hiking in Switzerland. A hiker in the conservative Swiss canton of Appenzell got fined for baring all, appealed, and won.

Now that victory has turned into defeat. The BBC reports that Switzerland’s highest court has ruled that local authorities can fine people for hiking in the buff. Naked hiking isn’t illegal per se, but but public indecency is, and if the local authorities decide naked hiking is indecent, well, then you can’t do it. And since this came from the nation’s highest court, it applies to all of Switzerland.

The court stated its ruling was only a “marginal” infringement on personal liberty. Much more marginal than, say, forbidding women to vote, which is what Appenzell did until 1990. This makes me the local authorities aren’t so much concerned with individual rights as they are with a buttoned-up conservatism.

But individual rights are an issue here. In a truly free country, shouldn’t a person have the right to get an all-body tan while hiking? In a truly free country, shouldn’t people who are offended by the sight of naked strangers be able to have a picnic in peace?

Tricky.

Photo courtesy Alain Tanguy.

Rescue crews rush to aid naked Irish solo adventurer

The headline was too horrid on so many fronts to pass up.

It turns out 29-year-old Irishman Keith Whelan, attempting to become the first of his nation to row solo across the Indian Ocean – despite as far as I can glean having little rowing experience, just naked ambition and a Twitter account – had been slapped by a big wave 128 miles off the coast of Australia, cracked his head on a protruding bolt and called for help. A cargo ship, the Fujisuka — having nothing better to do — diverted course, picked him up and delivered him back to shore at Bunbury, where he held … drum roll … a press conference.

How do we know all this? Thanks to his constant tweeting and blogging and the 24/7 reach of the global media.

Before we go any further with the story of this faux adventure, why oh why did he opt to row naked? According to his website it was “to avoid painful chafing from salt encrusted clothing.” (“Having gotten into a rowing boat for the first time only a year or so beforehand, he will spend 110 days alone at sea, facing 50 foot swells, hurricane force winds and unrelenting sunshine … and he’ll be naked.”)

Not to mention the attention the word naked still garners in headlines, Twitter feeds and Google searches.
I’m not suggesting the guy shouldn’t be able to ‘define’ adventure in his own terms. With most corners of the world already explored in a variety of fashions, those who seek adventure are forced after a fashion to find new ways of doing them. People have walked up Everest on behalf of every imaginable disease, attempted long walks, long rows, long sails, etc., going forwards, backwards, sideways and upside down to try and draw attention to their pursuit. Whelan is hardly the first. (His charity is Keep A Child Alive, for which to-date he’s raised about $700 … out of a hoped-for $15,000).
But there is something missing, something lackluster, about much of the ‘adventuring’ we’re seeing in the early years of the 21st century? Rather than truly fulfilling dreams or accomplishing something brand new (Ed Stafford’s walking of the length of the Amazon stands out as a good example) it seems today all you need is an attention grabbing moniker, a sat phone for delivering constant updates to your blog, a charitable cause, some kind of ‘first’ (will climbing Everest naked be next for Whelan?), a contact for ‘media requests’ and – succeed or fail – a now-mandatory press conference.

I’m not suggesting we go back to the days when Robert Falcon Scott and team froze to death 10 miles from a depot (texting might have helped keep them alive)… or when the best rationale climbers could come up with for risking their lives on Himalayan peaks was ‘because it’s there’ … but it seems there are more and more inexperienced people launching adventures these days and getting sizable attention most often for their ineptitude, thanks to the instant reach of social media.

According to his tweets, Whelan is back on shore (after a “tough day, very long” aboard the cargo ship) and “up for trying the 3,600 mile solo row again.”

Given the way this adventure has started for the lad, I’d advise the ‘freelance events manager’ from County Kildare consider a year off for further planning.

Even before being rescued his Indian Ocean attempt suffered a variety of setbacks, beginning with severe seasickness. On May 11 he ran into trouble soon after launching and had to be rescued by a passing fishing boat, which towed him to a nearby island. After setting out again, on May 24 he blogged that he was back on the mainland after strong winds and bad weather blew him off course. Ready to depart one more time, he was alerted – by his Australian host, he apparently hadn’t noticed himself – that the boat’s rudder was badly damaged and needed serious repair.

Before starting this misadventure, this is how Whelan explained his motivation at his website: “I am a risk taker and risking your life to achieve a dream is the biggest risk you can take. Some might say it’s foolish but to my mind it is only foolish if you don’t know the risks and you don’t prepare for them and train for every possible scenario.”

My question is, Did he really understand the risks and was he prepared for ‘every possible scenario?’ Or was he just being foolish?

Whelan is not the only soloist attempting to cross the Indian Ocean this season; my friend Roz Savage – who at the very least has earned her headlines by previously having rowed across the Atlantic and Pacific – is now more than 40 days out.

Her daily blogs often tend to focus as much on the hi-tech side of modern-day adventuring — whether its failing GPS’s, trickiness downloading emails or sat phones calls ‘with Mum’ being disconnected – as the ocean world around her (the daily repetitiveness of which can, I’m sure, get very boring).

Reading postings from the middle of the ocean by these modern day adventurists makes me wonder what 140 character missives Thor Heyerdahl would have sent back from the balsa wood raft Kon Tiki in the 1940s.
“Another yellowfin commits suicide by throwing itself aboard; Bengt keeping the three of us up with incessant snoring”

[flickr image via wongaboo]