Bad Decision... Kayaker?!

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Hola, amigos. What's up? I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but... Oh, oops. Wrong blog. 

But yeah, it's not that things have been exactly quiet since the Royal, just not very noteworthy. I did and awesome tour with some friends around rural Wisconsin back in June. I've been getting a lot of really great two track exploring in this summer and have actually found some growing interest amongst my riding buddies for more of that sort of stuff. 

But really, the stories are a lot of the same ol'-same ol'. No new tale to tell. 

Until last weekend. 

I was all set to go out and mileage some LSPR roads, spent all morning getting the paperwork together, even got supplies together for a night of camping. Hopped in my car to head out, and....


The odometer stayed stuck at 10.273 miles. 

Seems I lost the magnets on the odo pickup.  

Well, now what? 

It's a beautiful weekend. I can figure something out. 

Swung by the The Bike Shop to pick up some parts to get the Hoss ready for Fat Tire. And then, without good reason. I swung by Downwind Sports. See, I've been going on and on about sea kayaks all summer.  It's my new "thing".  Except I'm determined to go about this in a slightly more mature way than I've gotten into bicycles, skis, motorcycles, cars, ham radio, backpacking, computers, and well- the list goes on. Usually, I just waltz into the store impulse buy something really nice and go from there.  But now that I'm older and wiser, I'm determined to buy the right thing right at the start. And get it on sale.  So you know, I figured I'd just waltz in and "see if they had any end of season" specials.

My checkbook is happy to report that their selection was pretty much down to a couple of sit on tops and a few boats sized for anorexic teenage girls, so my checkbook was mostly safe.  Didn't stop my from walking out with a rental kayak strapped to the roof of my car for the weekend though.

So yeah, I got it home that night. Paddled around Otter Lake getting used to the boat. Nice calm paddle, everything went great. The Tsunami 140 proved to be rock stable and tracked pretty well even though it was maybe a little slow.

Next day had me up early planning a longer expedition.  In my head, I was telling myself I'd go paddle around Huron Bay. You know, nothing major. 

But Huron Bay is right out by my favorite Lake Superior beach. So I figured I'd maybe see how the water was out there. Maybe play in the waves if there were some. Maybe paddle up and down the shore. 

But you see, there are these islands 4 miles offshore from my favorite beach. They've been taunting me for years.  I'd sit there on the beach, downing some liquid courage (beer) before braving the chilly waters of Lake Superior wondering exactly what it was like out there. 

So, of course I found myself paddling straight out into Lake Superior. I figured, worse case scenario- I could swim 2 miles in either direction to dry ground. (Did I mention they wouldn't give me a spray skirt with the boat because they thought I might do something stupid and drown? :) )

But hey, 2 miles out and things were going pretty great. The weather was about as perfect as perfect can be and I completed the 4 mile crossing in just over an hour.

Holy shit. I made it. 

I did some quick exploration on Lighthouse Island. There's really not a whole lot to explore. Between the rocky, rough terrain and thick brush- you're pretty much limited to the path between the landing, the lighthouse, and the lifesaving station on the far end of the island. 

But frankly, I was ill-prepared to deal with even the slightest of bad weather so I didn't waste much time before jumping in the boat and heading back.  While preparing to shove off, a pontoon boat full of old guys drinking beer advised me to "be careful". Funny, coming from a bunch of guys who were one old outboard motor away from being completely screwed. 

I took the opportunity to paddle around the island closest to lighthouse island. It's enough to hook anybody on the sport. Paddling next to 20-30 foot cliffs that drop straight down into the lake, with water so clear you can see the rock formations another 20 feet below you. Spectacular would be a good word to use. Even if I had a camera, pictures would in no way do it justice. 

With a slight tailwind, I made it back to the beach in less than an hour. I was greeted by some little girl on the beach yelling "Hey mom, the crazy kayaker made it!" 

huronpaddle.jpgI spent the rest of the afternoon applying what I've learned watching youtube videos, practicing self rescues and attempting rolls. Maybe I should have done that before I tried that trip, but it probably would have all worked out. Maybe. :) 

Anyway, I'm hooked now. Anybody want to buy a motorcycle and fund my next stupid hobby? 

1 Comment

I remember years ago some kayakers got stranded overnight on Gull Rock when the weather turned bad. I'm glad this story didn't end that way. ;)

Kayaks are a lot of fun. It's something I've dabbled in in the past and would really like to get back into. The Seattle area is full of good paddling possibilities.

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