SUP To Hell and Back


I have not blogged in a long time, just busy with other activities, not enough time or to be honest the drive to sit down and blog after doing all the other stuff I have been doing for the last year.  I’m trying to get ready for a major move South for more warm weather and water.  Took time out to SUP with a friend on the Hyland Lakes chain in Southeast Michigan, it’s near Ann Arbor and Chelsea Mi.  This chain of lakes connects to the Huron River chain of lakes.

There was supposed to be a bigger group with SUP training and rental provided by Paddle the Mitten  – Paddlethemittensup.com, however not enough people signed up and the training event cancelled the day before.  Well me and my friend Gerry already had our SUPs on our cars so why not go anyway and SUP to Hell (what the Hell?).

SUP Car

SUP Transport

That’s Hell MI for those that aren’t familiar with the area.  There is a beer and burger place at the dam called The Dam Site Inn (what else?).  It is popular with the motorcycle crowd as a good destination.  The whole area is just gorgeous, winding two lane country roads with lots of lakes and trees and farms.  I could get in trouble there if you gave me a fast 2 seat sports car to drive.

Back to the trip, we unloaded and met a guy from the Livingston County Press, he wanted some SUP pics and Gerry mounted a Gopro video camera on his board (not sure this worked well).  Pictures can be found of us on that site

http://www.livingstondaily.com/  pictures are labeled Stand up paddle boarding at Pinckney Rec Area’s Halfmoon Lake, or use the link while active: http://www.livingstondaily.com/picture-gallery/sports/recreation/2014/08/25/standup-paddleboarding-at-pinckney-rec-areas-halfmoon-lake/14593025/ .  After the photo session we paddled to the dam and back, very nice quiet peaceful paddle with lots to see nature wise, only a couple of boats on the channel to Hyland Lake.

Halfmoon LAke

SUP to the channel

Dam Site Inn

At the Dam

Hell Dam

The Dam

Safety Gate at the dam

Safety Gate at the dam – minimal

Boards at rest at The Dam Site Inn

Boards at rest at The Dam Site Inn parking lot – before the ninja motorcycle gang showed up

Return to Halfmoon Lake

Return to Halfmoon Lake

Our waitress at The Dam Site Inn said we were the first SUPs to show up at the Inn – “they had never seen surf boards there before”

First Ever Huron River Chain SUP Trip


Not sure if anyone else has done this or not, however I think it might be the first ever SUP trip taken down the Huron River in Southeast Michigan.  Stand Up Paddle boards are still new to the Midwest.

SUP Start

Contemplation at the start - Huron Meadows

We traveled from Huron Meadows Metro Park  (a beautiful under utilized park on the Huron River) to Portage Lake.  This was a distance measured by GPS of 13.5 miles.

At the Start

At The Start 13 Miles To Go

We averaged 3.2 knots and launched at 10:16 AM,it was quiet and peaceful on the river, power boaters were still sleeping.

Winans Lake Bridge

Winan's Lake Road Bridge

There are many sections of the river without development, the water was very clear, the bottom could be seen when there was no river grass.

Three SUP's

The Three Amigos

Power boaters don’t know what they are missing in the sights and sounds without motors.

SUP

Peaceful Human Powered Trip

The Paddle took us through many Townships: Green Lake, Brighton, Hamburg, Putnam, Dexter.

Ore Lake

Near Ore Lake In Brighton Mi

Next Hamburg Mi

Hamburg MI

Near Hamburg Park After M36

Near Strawberry Lake

Lakeland Trail

Lakeland Trail Bridge

Low clearance at the Railroad Bridge

Rail Road Bridge

Duck

Gerry the tallest of the three.

sup bridge

Railroad Bridge

Next milestone Strawberry Lake

Entering Strawberry Lake

On Strawberry

Sup

SUPs Crossing Strawberry just before noon

Took a break and  lunched at noon outside on the deck at the Zukey Lake Tavern till almost 2:00 PM

Zukey Tavern

Waiting for the first pitcher

(some friends showed up late and we stayed longer than expected).

After Lunch

After Lunch at the Tavern

Now refreshed and ready to complete the trip, the weather is perfect.

Getting underway after the lunch stop

We took out at close to 5:00 PM, unfortunately I did not look for the exact time, Ron the GPS guy does have the exact data if anyone wants to know.

Huron river SUP

Heading Down The River SUP Style

We had a Boardworks Ohana 14 foot SUP, a 12.5 Tahoe Rubicon SUP and a Naish Nalu 12.5 SUP.  The 14 foot board was clearly the ticket, faster than the other two boards.  If you want a cruising board go with a 14 foot board, they are fast and stable.  We won’t say the operators had anything to do with the SUP performance.

Leader testing the waters

One person was in the water five times, four after lunch and one person was in the water once at the end of Baseline lake near the end of the trip, there was boat wake on Baseline, we went down the middle of the lake.

SUP On Gallager

Gallager Lake

The weather could not have been better, mid to high 70’s and mostly sunny, low wind until the end of the trip on Portage, note the wind sock in the pictures.  We had a pontoon full of 20 something young ladies greet us with woops at the end of the Portage Lake pontoon channel, we think the ladies were feeling no pain.   They most likely did not realize the SUPers were all close to 60 years in age.  But then we are a young looking bunch, being active can’t hurt – exception is Gerry with the hurt part.

Baseline Lake

Getting Near Baseline Lake - See the Blue Heron?

We all agreed it was a great paddle, and we want to do it again before it gets colder this season.  The sections along the river were very relaxing and it did not feel like we were paddling 13 miles.  Lots of turtles, blue heron, and fish were observed along the way.  The boat traffic was very light for a sunny and warm Saturday on the Chain of Lakes.  Water levels were high as observed by the flooded shorelines near the starting point.

Boat Traffic

The Apres Sup relaxing, watching Portage Lake

Oberon Time

The Kayak Coffin Arrives


It’s been a long time since I blogged, my apologies, just been too busy with other activities.

The P&H Kayak that I demo’ed back on July 19th then had it sold from under me because I waited till the next morning and was subsequently talked into ordering (not a very hard sell) was finally delivered on December 29th.  Kelly Blades was kind enough to get it from the intermediate shipment location in Brighton Michigan and deliver it to my house.  I ordered the kayak at the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium in July originally being told it would be 4 t0 6 weeks, this short timing surprised me but who knows.

Then in September I got a sheepish call from someone at Downwind Sports that the 4 to 6 weeks was really 4 to 6 months, and they wanted to know if I still wanted the boat, oh well.  I found out that the planned delivery date was in March 2013!  Had I not called to see where it was and indicate that I still wanted it delivered when it arrived from England via North Carolina I would still be waiting.  The boat has a manufacturing date of September 2012.  One benefit is I’m going to the GLSKS 2013 for free, a bonus for buying the boat at the symposium.

When Kelly arrived with the boat on December 29th it looked like he had a white coffin on his truck.  The packaging for shipment was really something.  Seven layers of material.  It required a trip to the Dexter recycling center afterwards.

Here’s the boat with the first layer removed, a heavy white paper felt like material.

Kayak Packaging

Layer One Removed

Next covering is a very heavy cardboard, taped on, lots of clear tape in this packaging.

Layer 2

Outer Cardboard Layer 2

Next layer more cardboard.

Layer 3 Cardboard

Next is the foam pipe insulation tubes.  (if you need any pipe insulation let me know)

Layer 4

Layer 4 Foam Tubes

Next layer is a plastic tube tightly taped everywhere – no water during shipment was going to enter.

Layer 5

Layer 5 Plastic Wrap

Next was a thin white foam layer, again with lots of tape.

Layer 6

Layer 6 Foam Sheet

Layer seven is a fabric mesh tube like a sock.

Layer 7

Last Layer Fabric Tube

Finally I get to see the boat.  It took a good 45 minutes to get the boat uncovered and in the rack in my garage.  More time to clean up the mess.

Done

Done Unpacking

It almost did not fit on the wall in the garage with the other four boats.  The skin on frame Greenland boat is on the front wall and the standup paddle on the other wall – running out of storage space.

In Storage Waiting for Soft Water

The mess left behind.  The pipe tubes I can take to Recycle Ann Arbor.

All The Packaging

Bottom line is it would have been easier to buy the boat at the symposium in July and carry it back on my truck than to unwrap the delivered boat in December.  The boat will see Brighton HS pool rolling action this winter and a trip back down South to Tybee Island Ga. the first week of April.

Greenland Kayak Training Camp 2012


Qajaq TC

Qajaq TC

It was my second year being lucky enough to get in on the Qajaq USA event (Qajaq is pronounced kayak for non Greenlanders). Visit the Qajaq TC site  for more info and more photos of the event. The Training Camp long weekend is restricted by total number due to the limited facilities at Camp Lookout , click on the highlighted link to learn more about the camp.  The location is part of the charm of the Training Camp, not to mention the great food put on by Michael Gray of Uncommon Adventures.  So only about 65-67 people can attend including instructors.  I saw lots of familiar faces but there were also a good number of new attendees.

 

Training

Training With Maligiaq

The purpose of the training is to improve and promote Greenland paddling skills.  There were lots of rolling practice going on, static bracing, and paddle stroke instruction, paddle making, and boat skinning.

 

Static Brace

Static Brace

Ready To Roll

Ready To Roll

Start Of Roll

Start of Roll

Kayak roll

Over Ready for Sweep

Paddle Sweep

Paddle Sweep

Roll On Back Deck

Roll Onto Back Deck

Roll Complete

Roll Complete

It is a very informal affair with the only real schedule being meal times and happy hour.  Kayakers it appears like their favorite beverage.

Happy Hour

Happy Hour Extra Dry Shaken Not Stirred

Drinks

The Harder Stuff

The weather a bit cooler than last year and some people like me got rained on in the paddle over to the camp on Thursday.  There are no roads to the camp, only water taxi for the gear.  This is part of the charm of the 85 year old camp.  The rest of the weekend there was mostly sun and 70’s for a high temperature.  This felt cool to me after being in Southeast Michigan all summer with upper 80’s to 90’s being the norm.  Even my July trip to Grand Marais in the UP for the GLSKS was warmer.

 

Qajaq TC

Greenland Kayaks at Training Camp

I improved my roll at the camp and learned some things about the roll that I was missing so I’m a better paddler after the event than before.  My Greenland Qajaq that I built two winters ago was doing better for me; I have worked on making it more comfortable.  My assessment is I did not have the measurements correct at the very start of the boat build, my sit position was not measured correctly.  You do not have to have a Greenland boat for the training, but don’t leave home without your Greenland paddle.  Euro paddles will not be accepted at training camp.

 

There were Greenland boats auctioned off at the live auction Saturday night, it was a hoot, and tons of money (in the four figures) was raised for Qajaq USA, everyone is very supportive of the event and the organization.  Amazing fund amount raised since there were less than seventy people there.

Auction

Saturday Night Live Auction

 

Sunset At Camp Lookout

Saturday Night Sunset On Lake Michigan

Again World Champion Greenland Qajaq racer Maligiaq Padilla was there at camp providing some of his skills and perspective on Greendland paddling.  He showed everyone some good rope gymnastics, making some difficult moves look easy.  If interested Maligiaq and Uncommon Adventures  are planning a Greenland Paddle trip and they are looking for participants (number also limited).  Also checkout Maligiaq’s highly rated rolling video at his web page Maligiaq.

 

MALIGIAQ

On The Water With Maligiaq

Following the craze that has hit Michigan this year, Michael Gray brought his stand up paddle board (SUP) and allowed people to try it out.  Not sure this was available in Greenland…  Is there a Greenland style SUP paddle yet?  Michael is also doing SUP trips with Uncommon Adventures, if nothing else I know the food would be good.

Michael In Front Of Kitchen

In closing it is hard to describe how wonderful the training camp weekend is, the people that attend just make it different, more comfortable and pleasant than other activities.  There is an aura about the place and the people of Qajaq TC USA.

Camp Fire

Evening Campfire on Lake Michigan Shore

Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium 2012 – Grand Marais Mi


I attended the 28th annual GLSKS held in the Upper Peninsular of Michigan in the small quaint picturesque town of Grand Marias on the shores of Lake Superior.
GLSKS Boats in Grand Marais harbor waiting for the day to begin

Early Morning on Grand Marais beach GLSKS

GLSKS Boats On Beach

All The Boats Ready for GLSKS Training Sessions

This was my second time at the symposium and I enjoyed it as much if not more than last year.  I camped in the municipal campground just a block from downtown Grand Marais and the beach.

Kayakers basically take over the town for the weekend.  The local restaurants and the “Dunes” brewpub do quite well.  At dinner you need to plan on a short wait.  I tried a new place this time the “Diner”. 

If you want different, eclectic, with the best pizza or breakfast in town go to the Diner, but don’t be in a hurry.  If you are after a fresh white fish dinner go to the Sportsman with a very close second the Diner.  Things move just a bit slower in the UP versus the lower part of Michigan so relax and enjoy the pace.

Sun rise in Grand Marais Harbor

Sun Rise in Grand Marais

I spent some time, going out to dinner with my campsite next door neighbors, enjoying meeting them and hope to connect with them again down state for some Detroit River paddling.  Meeting some new friends is a benefit of the symposium.

GLSKS Paddlers

Happy Paddlers at GLSKS and - New Friends

I took the 21 mile paddle on the first day of the symposium up the West side of Grand Island and then onto the North shore campground.  We were very lucky as all day long we were on the lee side of the wind until we turned the corner at the top of the island.  There were some 2 to 3 foot swells and a constant wind blowing from the North East.

Grand Island Rocks

West Side of Grand Island with Rock Shoreline - note the rock under water

Marius Cehcking Out One of Many Caves

Marius Checking Out One of Many Caves

Grand Island West Shore

Grand Island West Shore

Shower Time on Grand Island

Shower Time For Doug on Grand Island

The water was unusually warm for Lake Superior, felt good to get wet.  It was a great paddle and everyone that took it had a great time.  I met some new instructors Jeremy Vore, Doug Neal, and Marius Asepaukas and I thoroughly enjoyed them leading the trip.  Marius is fun to watch paddle, he has a very distinctive style and a joker that you would not expect upon first meeting him.  I also paddled with one of my buddies, Gary from the Cumberland Island Georgia trip and winter pool sessions with “Rooster”  in Brighton Michigan.  He is a fun guy but can be crabby at times (a joke from the CI/Tybee trip).

North Beach Lunch Stop

North Beach Lunch Stop

We stopped for lunch at North Beach and Jeremy amazed us by cooking a stir fry with rice for his lunch all in under 20 minutes while the rest of us had tuna from packets or just bars for lunch.

Opps!  Whats wrong with this picture?

Opps! Whats wrong with this picture?

Paddle Back to Munising

Return Paddle Back to Munising Ferry Dock

For instruction on Friday I took the rough water training with Danny Mongo and learned a couple new techniques.  Did a roll or two and even managed to wet exit one of the instructors teaching us both a little more about having someone ride on the back of your kayak.  Then we had to do a double recovery (or rescue) of ourselves.  I also learned I need a better water pump, mine was slow and not that useful so I’m in the market for one if anyone has suggestions.  Louise my instructor had a great attitude through all this, we both took it all in as a learning experience.

Saturday I was a little under the weather, having water up my nose by operator error on Friday.  I have a strange allergy to lake water that makes me feel like I have a bad cold for a week afterward.  Salt water no problem.  Anyone have any suggestions on this, prevention or recovery?  It is a bit annoying. 

So I got a late start on Saturday opted out of the paddle I had originally planned and was told not to try rolls by instructor Roy in my somewhat imbalanced state.  Doing the rolling class was my plan B. 

Instead I demo’d boats and SUPS and found a boat I liked, bit the bullet, and ordered it at event pricing after it got sold out from under me – you snooze you lose.  It’s a P & H Cetus MV which fit me better than the Tiderace I demo’d.  Guess I’m used to the P & H seat of my Capella.  Bottom line don’t demo the boats, it’s dangerous!

Sunday was blessing of the boats, some of the instructors (I won’t name names) got creative with a Stonehenge like kayak monument for the event.  Don’t try this at home.
Next year I want to stay an extra day and return on Monday, miss the Sunday traffic and enjoy Grand Marais for one more day.  I find it very relaxing there.

Blessing Of the Boats

Waiting for Blessing Of The Boats Sunday

Hats off to Down Wind Sports which sponsored the event, they did a great job again, no complaints.  Now I ‘m just waiting for my boat to be made, and the infamous  Kelly Blades is supposed to deleiver it to me.

Stonehenge

Kayak Stonehenge

 
Shoreline Near Grand Marais Campground

Lake Superior Shoreline Near Grand Marais Campground

 
Sun Going Down on Lake Superior

Sun Going Down on Lake Superior At The 2012 GLSKS

 

Tybee Island GA Kayaking


This is part two of theCumberland and Tybee Island Sea Kayak trip.  This blog is about the Tybee Island experience, the blog is a little late since I was very busy with home and work items after returning from vacation.  It did not help that I was sent to Upstate NY for work for a week working 12 hour days.  Therefore I hope I remember the highlights after such a delay in writing this.  Fortunately there are lots of pictures to remind me. 

Tybee Beach Picture

Tybee Beach In The April Afternoon - Off Season

Disclaimer: Some or most of this blog will not be interesting if you are a veteran ocean kayaker; it will be old hat, for me this was a wonderful new learning experience.

Tybee Island Beach View

Tybee Island Beach

Surf  on Tybee Island

Ocean Surf

Atlantic Ocean Surf

After paddling to St Mary’s GA from Cumberland Island on Wednesday we got the trailer out of storage without any issues and loaded the vehicles.  It was time for lunch and we had another great meal in St Mary’s on the outside porch of  The Riverside Café.

Riverside Cafe Picture

Lunch at The Riverside Cafe - St Marys GA

This was the first non-rustic meal in four days and the first cold beer available in the same time period.  Everything tasted great.

From lunch we had a 3 hour drive North toTybee Island.  There were no travel issues and we got to Tybee excited to check out the huge rental house.  I’m still not sure I saw all the bedrooms and bathrooms in the place.  It would easily accommodate a group of 20 people.  There were now 4 couples in theTybee Island group since some additional people opted to fly in and avoid the Cumberland experience (light weights – just kidding).

 All the bathroom doors did not lock, so after one or two embarrassing moments we all got accustomed to being careful not to just open a door.

 We unloaded quickly were ready for yet another meal out, this time at the Crab Shack.

The Crab Shack seating was outdoors, just a little cool so the outdoor heaters made it just right.  Everyone got plenty to eat and the sea food was very good.  They had no trouble seating a group as large as ours, now up to 15 people.  There were no issues with the noise of our group here at this establishment.  The wait staff however was not as much fun as in St Mary’s.

 The next morning (Thursday) we were up early, made breakfast, drank lots of coffee and got our paddling gear ready and got our kayaks to the beach ready to launch.  This was the first time I launched into surf and got some good tips and instruction.  I found it not hard with the amount of surf we had to get through. 

Launching Through The Surf

Launching Through The Surf

Then it was on to the Devils Triangle, maybe a mile South down the beach of our launch site.  For the novices in the group we started at the edge of the wave action to get used to surfing the waves and bracing to stay upright.  We played for several hours in the waves and I got confident with the conditions since I did not get rolled by the surf. 

Playing In The Ocean

Playing In The Ocean

 A couple other people did and had to be towed out beyond the high surf area to get back into their kayak.  The pictures really do not capture the waves and what it looks like from the kayak cockpit.

Kayak Rescue After a Roll and Wet Exit

Kayak Rescue After a Roll and Wet Exit

We came back to the house for lunch and I think a group went back out in the afternoon to play in the waves, but I was content to walk the beach and soak up some sun in the afternoon.  The kayaks were stored behind a dune on the beach for the next days paddling.  Dinner was cooked in, and I remember it being another fine meal but now the dinners and days are blending together except for the crab dinner which was a different experience discussed later.

Lunch Break

Kayaks sitting During Lunch Break, Ready for Launching

The next day (Friday) repeated breakfast and coffee prior to suiting up to do some more paddling in the Triangle.  This time I went deeper into the Triangle, I’m told the “zipper” was not at its peak.  This is a section where the incoming surf meets the outflow of the river and creates a wave that goes straight up.  I will have to witness this phenomenon another time. 

Kayak Storage On the Beach Over the Dune

Kayak Storage On the Beach Over the Dune

Today I had my confidence reduced as I was rolled and had to be rescued three times.  I was doing a great surf run and thought the wave was done so I stopped bracing so aggressively then got pushed over by the end of the wave, the next roll was right after that and should have been avoidable if I had worked harder to stay up with a good brace before going all the way over and also planting a paddle at the top of the wave, which was a tip provided by the more experienced Tybee people.  The third time I remember was also avoidable but now the details allude me.  I also should have been able to stay calm and try to roll back up – but being a little intimated at the waves I did not try this either.  It takes a lot less energy if you can stay in your kayak than doing a wet exit and a recovery.  As I have heard it said your kayak is your PFD.

Beach Kayaks

Kayaks Ready For The Next Day

I did learn more by going over than if I did not.  I know you are supposed to hold onto your kayak, I was talking to my rescuer and went to grab my paddle for just an instant letting go of the kayak.  This was a big mistake I had to work hard to get back to it after that.  Sometimes you just have to learn by experience to set in training.

At this particular spot the water depth was over my head and there were still some good waves coming, I had several lessons learned here with this roll.  I got back in cowboy style – but got scolded for not staying low and staying stomach down head pointing backwards, getting my feet in first then turning around in the cockpit.  I really appreciated the scolding since next time I need to re-enter the kayak differently in the surf.  The reason is better stability and not having a high center of gravity that could also pull over the rescuer.

The Tybee trip is a good place to learn how to handle rough water in a somewhat controlled environment.  Most of the area in the triangle is shallow so once out of the kayak it’s not too difficult to recover your wet exit.  The water temp was also warm when we were there at the end of April so wet suits and dry suits are not needed.

We stopped for a lunch break on Little Tybee Island just beyond the Devils Triangle area.  Just a somewhat secluded spot with a beach and some palm trees with a distant view of Tybee Island. 

PADDLING IN FOR LUNCH

PADDLING IN FOR LUNCH

 This is a rustic location, so the restroom is the bushes behind the beach.

On Little Tybee Island

On Little Tybee Island

Kayaks at rest during lunch:

Kayak Kneading Water

Kayak Kneading Water

 We saw several Dolphins there close to shore, one mother with her young swimming right next to her.  The photo below does not really show it well. 

Dolfins

Dolphins

After lunch we split into two groups, some going back for more wave action and another group having enough action for the day.  Either way some crossing of the triangle required.  On a sand bar there was a large group of pelicans.  For a Northern Yankee like myself, this was an unusual sight to see so many in one place.  It was a fantastic warm and sunny day, with the wind not picking up too much in the afternoon as it usually did.

Sand Bar Birds

Pelicans On Sand Bar

Landing in the surf takes some skill as well, making sure you do not come in too fast with the crashing wave.  You have to paddle backwards as the wave comes to slow you down, then once past, paddle hard forward to get on shore before the next crashing wave.  If not done correctly, you can end up rolling on the beach.  Fortunately I did it correctly with each landing.  Whoever was on the beach first helped the others land and get out of the waves.  People on the beach were oblivious to the kayaks coming in and had to be warned to watch out.  A kayak being accelerated and pushed in from the waves would hurt big time if you got hit by one standing too close on the beach.  And once committed there is no stopping the kayak.

Walking Back To The House After Paddling

Walking Back To The House From The Beach After Paddling

We had another good home cooked meal for dinner and although most of us were tired from the day, we were talked into doing the Tybee trip ritual of going downtown to Doc’s Bar. Doc’s was maybe a mile walk from our rental house, some of us drove there, and I won’t point out the lazy ones that didn’t walk.  The bar I’m told has not changed for years, it is narrow and packed with locals and snow birds.  Music is always the same, danceable 70’s and 80’s classic rock is the best I can describe it.

 There are no public smoking restrictions in Georgia so I was reminded how nice it is in Michigan to not allow smoking inside bars.  I personally do not miss smoky bars (sorry smokers).  Most of our group got out on the dance floor.  My significant other does not dance so I have not done any dancing in about 10 years and I did not break that streak on this trip.  I’m sure my lack of alcohol fueling had something to do with not dancing.

The bar crowd was our age or older, interesting mix.  This is not a twenty or thirty something bar.  We were called damn Yankees there by some local Georgia female patrons in jest.  However there are still some in the South that have not given up on the North Vs South of the distant past.

Kayak Roll

A Cool Off Roll Going To The Lighthouse

A series of rolls that just felt good.

Kayak Rolls

One of Many Rolls - Just Because He Could

The finish or the start of the next kayak roll depending on how you look at it.

Kayak Rolling

The Finish or Start?

For a change of pace the next day (Saturday) we paddled North along the shore of Tybee Island to the Cockspur Island Lighthouse and the final destination to be the old confederate Fort Pulaski .  

Cockspur Island Lighthouse

Cockspur Island Lighthouse

The Union Army Civil War attack on the fort changed military history.  This paddle was nice since we were out of the wind for a change with the point of TybeeIsland shoreline protecting us from the majority of the wind.  The Fort sits on an island between two legs of the South Channel of the Savannah River, one being the boundary between South Carolina and Georgia.

Lighthouse

Heading Up to the Top of the Lighthouse

Several of us climbed to the top of the lighthouse.  While there, some in our group stopped a crab boat and bought fresh live crabs off the fishing boat.  This would end up being the first course of dinner.  The crabs with put in the front hatch of one of the kayaks with water added a little later.  The crabs survived the days paddle and were put in to the cooking pot live – I avoided watching this later, but did try one of the crabs, tasty but a lot of work.  We landed our kayaks at the bridge for Fort Pulanski and walked to the Fort’s entrance.

Opps

Can't You Read The Sign?

We had a little bit of a surprise just after we landed our kayaks, reading the other side of the sign.  Then we felt guilty and moved our kayaks next to the road, hoping nobody would bother them, and they didn’t.

 

Fort Pulaski Walk From the Bridge

Fort Pulaski Walk From the Bridge

 

 It was a hot day and getting cold Gatorade Sports G Series drinks from the machine at the Fort entrance was really welcomed.  A credit card was used on the machine and thanks you to whoever provided the card since we had no coin change.  I did not think to bring a card with me on the paddle, only a $20 of paper money.

Fort Pulanski

Fort Pulanski

The Fort itself was very interesting, I thought for the late 1800’s the Fort’s housing conditions for the soldiers were pretty good.  You can read all about the fort at the link above.

Outside Fort Pulanski

Outside Fort Pulanski

The next day (Sunday) there was an early morning paddle then carry the kayaks back to the house for loading and packing. 

Trasporting Kayaks

Trasporting Kayaks - What's Wrong With This Picture???

We must have got the trailer weight distribution right this time since the trailer did not sway.

Packing Up

Packing Up

 We drove though the downtown area of Savannah and it was much better scenery than the way though to Tybee. 

Savannah GA

Savannah GA

Of course the adventure was not over, somewhere inSouth Carolina the trailer blew a tire.  Fortunately the trailer was kept under control and moved safely to the shoulder, only a mile for the next freeway exit.  There were no spare tires for the trailer – a question asked at the start of the trip with the answer that it was never needed before.  The theory is that all the swaying at the start of the trip damaged the belts in the tires causing the failure on the return trip.

Kayak Trailer

Kayak Trailer On The Road Again

The Aztek   showed its utility again my having a the correct 5 lug hole rim on a temporary spare tire.  With the temporary tire on the trailer we drove off the freeway; why we did not stop there and then use the Aztek to drive 20 miles to Wal-Mart – the only place open on a Sunday I do not know.  We drove 5 miles then pulled over to a gas station in the middle of nowhere.  Even though this was a rural area, the gas station had bars on the windows not giving us a good feeling.  We almost adopted a dog that showed up and made friends, while waiting for the Wal-Mart run to be performed.  We talked the trailer owner into getting two new tires instead of just one and the logic of this was realized since both original tires were of the same age and subject to the same stress as the blown tire.  We had plenty of trailer adventures already on the trip without having another late on a Sunday evening out of range of a Wal-Mart.

Two people stopped to ask if we needed help, one offered his front lawn to camp out if we needed to.  My opinion is this generosity would not have happened in the North.  There is something to Southern hospitality.

With that delay plus a very slow service dinner at an Applebee’s restaurant inNorth Carolinawe did not get to the hotel in Knoxville Tennessee until 2 am.  A short nights sleep and back on the road around 9:30 am after breakfast. For anAnn Arborarrival around 8:00 PM Monday.

It took me several days to unpack, picking up my kayak from the trailer in Brighton MI on Tuesday night.  My significant other said I had a grin on my face for days like I just had sex or something.  Guess I enjoyed the trip and the people on it.

Cumberland Island Sea Kayak Adventure


I was invited in December to join a Sea Kayak trip to Cumberland Island Georgia and then on to Tybee Island Georgia.  But I did not respond to the invite until January when I was able to roll my P & H Capella reliably in January pool sessions.  Paddling out on the Atlantic and in the Devils Triangle at Tybee was not in my comfort margin until I could roll consistently.  I was able to roll my Skin On Frame Greenland kayak last August at the Qajaq Training Camp, but not consistently in my Capella.

With a $250.00 check in the mail I was in, then a flurry of emails up until the end of April trip.  This trip involved “backpacking” in my kayak with everything I needed for 4 days of rustic camping on Cumberland Island.  I spent $1474 in gear for the trip not having some of the right camping gear for the trip.  Granted some of those expenses are for items that were wishes and not needs, such as a new spray skirt, a new PFD, new contacts for my eyes, a kayak compass, a Kokatat Hydration add on to my PFD.  Except for the Jetboil and the one man tent (the required items), I will use the gear purchased for a long time post trip while kayaking.  The final trip cost check was for $193.00 that included sharing the gas for the vehicle.  Therefore for only $443 I had 4 days of camping on Cumberland Island, 4 days of Tybee Island lodging in a very nice rental house, plus transportation for me and my kayak.  Pretty reasonable 10 day vacation cost.   Food and beverages were extra.

I had 40 Lbs. of gear, food and some water to fit into the Capella’s three hatches.  Some warm weather clothes were also taken and most were used on Cumberland Island, there were very few items that were over kill.  Spare batteries were never needed and – maybe a paddle shirt and one pair of long pants could have been reduced.

 

Kayak Launch

Packing Kayaks For Launch at St Mary's

The adventure started Friday April 20th at 5:30 am, the plan was to meet in Ann Arbor Michigan at Sweetwaters Café with the two travel vehicles.  Well the truck with the kayak trailer had hitch ball issues requiring a trip to Meijers and then it was trailer lights, this delayed the 6:30 AM meeting at Sweetwaters by an hour and a half.  Then we were on the road with 15 kayaks between two vehicles.

 

Truck and Trailer

Tow Truck and Trailer - AnnArbor Michigan Start

Azteck Vehicle

The Second Vehicle - The Aztek

We made several stops in Ohio trying to get the trailer to stop from swaying, first we thought the height of the hitch was the issue then finally learned that the tongue weight of the trailer was too light, shifting the gear and the kayaks in a rest stop helped stop the trailer sway.  This also put us behind schedule, we got to Charlotte North Carolina at midnight for a 6 AM breakfast and resume travel time.  The original plan time was to arrive around 9 PM.

We arrived in St. Mary’s Georgia after noon to negotiate the campsites with the park ranger for Cumberland Island the next day.  There was uncertainty in the camping on Cumberland Island.  There were campsites reserved in January for 10, then two more people joined and the park would not increase the number in February stating the Island was full.

 

Sea Kayak Trailer View

View Fom "Tybee 2" to "Tybee 1"

There was another wrinkle, a group site required 12 people minimum, and our reserved site was for 10.  They have a restriction of 3 tents only per non group site, which meant larger size tents would have to be taken in the kayaks.  The park ranger would not assign us a campsite until the day we were heading to the island so we camped at Crooked River campground and would have to see the ranger again on Sunday when we launched for the island.

 

Crooked River Lauanch

Crooked River Intial Plan Lauch Site and Campground

Three people cancelled out of the trip due to the campsite uncertainty.  Not everyone can deal with uncertainty and go for the adventure of the trip.  So Saturday we set up camp on the mainland at Crooked River, went back to St Mary’s for a wonderful dinner at Captain Seagles with a great waitress – Heather who was lots of fun.  She put the ten of us in a room by ourselves and then had to close the door because we were too loud having too much fun.  Fat Tire beer was on tap.  The food was fantastic and more than we could eat.

St. Mary’s is a very quaint historical little town with not much more than a few restaurants, the National Lakeshore visitors center, a marina, a general store, and craft/gift shop and a very nice park next to the boat launch.  We were off season so I’m not sure how quiet it is at peak season for Cumberland Island Tourists but it was very laid back while we were there.

View Of St Marys From The Water

View Of St Marys From The Water

It rained hard over Saturday night and in the morning getting our tents wet before we returned to St Mary’s for the launch and another visit to see the ranger.  The tent I was in took on water over night getting some of my stuff wet due to the lack of stakes available for use on the tent.  I could not find my rain gear which was a little disappointing at the time since I knew I packed it.  The rain gear turned out to be in the bow of my kayak still there from the packing dry run before the trip.  Since the kayaks were still on the trailer at the campsite I was not able to look for it until later after it stopped raining and the kayaks unloaded.

 

St Mary's Launch

Getting Ready for Launch at St Mary's Ramp

Once back at the National Lakeshore visitor’s center we were given a group site and all issues about the number of people and tents vanished.  The ranger was very nice and tried to help us as much as he could.  It appears there were many cancelations and getting the campsite we wanted was not an issue.  There is no camping except at the campsites, this is enforced and there is a large fine if caught camping elsewhere on the island.  This fact limited where we could paddle to in a day’s time around the island.  Cumberland Island  turned out to be pretty vacant.  Sometimes you just have to go for it and take some risk with a trip like this, not everything can be planned out.

 

To Cumberland Island

Paddle to the Island

In advance we had storage lined up for the trailer and the kayaks not being used at Cumberland Island.  This turned out to be a problem with the code not working at the gate, nobody answering the phone being a Sunday.  We did find an alternate storage location.  Just one more item not planned but in the end worked out.

We had close to a 2 hour paddle over to the Island, finding the right water way was a little difficult.  There were small craft warnings and high winds predicted however we did not experience that on the paddle over going with the tide made it an easy paddle.  About 500 yards from the dock we did get hit with a downpour making it hard to see the dock and getting us soaked from the kayak skirt up.  Once we all got the kayaks beached we huddled under the dock until the rain stopped.  Then the sun came out and acted like it never rained.

Paddle to Cumberland Under Clouds

Cloudy Paddle To the Island Going With The Tide

Cumberland Landing

Landing At Cumberland Island Sea Camp Ranger Station Dock - After The Rain Stopped

Negotiating the boats and the gear up to the ranger station was fun.  There was a big wall between the shore and the land.  We stored the kayaks behind the ranger station and the gear was put into carts for the approximate ½ mile walk to the campsites.  A wedding party was just leaving after having the ceremony at one of the campsites; they did get rained on also before they left the Island via the ferry.  It was funny to see people dressed up on the island.   Before the sun came out it was also a little cool.

Cumberland Sea Camp

Trail to Cumberland Sea Camp

 

My Sea Cmap Tent

My Sea Camp Tent

 

At Cumberland Island Sea Camp Site

At Cumberland Island Sea Camp Site

The next day was to be paddle day exploring the island; unfortunately the wind was at 20 MPH gusting at times higher.  This made it too difficult to paddle not to mention unsafe, so we rented bicycles for the day and explored the island by bike instead.

Cumberland Island Coastline

Cumberland Island Coastline

This turned out to be very interesting touring the old Thomas Carniegie summer mansions that were on the island circa 1880’s to 1925.  We were told they only spent about 6 weeks on the Island during the year but had a staff of 300 maintaining the place.  The Island mansions were self sufficient having gardens and fruit trees, a small farm.

Dungenese Mansion Distryed By Fire

Dungenese Mansion Distroyed By Fire

 

Dungenese Mansion View From Shore

Dungenese Mansion View From Shore

 

Plum Orchard Mansion

Plum Orchard Mansion - For The 22 Year Old Couple

 

Plum Orchard Mansion View

Plum Orchard Mansion Front view

The next day the wind was down to 10 to 15 MPH so we headed out going up the Cumberland shoreline against the wind.  It was tough going and the constant noise of the wind was tiring.  We stopped for lunch near the Stafford house and found out that we were on private property and got yelled at to leave.  This was after we had lunch so we did not mind much and then discovered the tide had gone out and we had a long muddy walk to get the kayaks back to water.  Just one more part of the adventure.

 

Cumberland Paddle UP the Coastline

Cumberland Paddle UP The Coastline

 

Cumberland Paddle UP The Coastline

Cumberland Paddle UP The Coastline Against Wind

The paddle back was much quicker with the wind.  We did not get as far up the shore as we wanted but we had a good work out and we happy to get the boats back out and go relax at the camp site.  We had showers at the camp but not hot water, now the cold water felt good and refreshing.  All the dinners at camp were great, more food than we needed as some very experienced kayak campers were in our group and brought some good homemade dehydrated food.  The wine and conversation flowed.

After A Days Paddle

After A Days Paddle Waiting for Sunset at The Ranger Station

 

Cumberland Island Sunset

Cumberland Island Sunset

The next day it was already time to pack up and get the kayaks re-loaded for the crossing back to the mainland.  This was the warmest day yet, winds were low, sunny.  While we crossed a submarine was going back to the nearby sub base at Kings Island.  We even got to paddle through sub wake.  Then we were circled by two different government helicopters.  Seeing 10 kayaks from the air must have been interesting to them.

 

Packed For the Walk To the Launch Site

Packed For the Walk To the Launch

 

Close Encounter Of The Sub Kind

Close Encounter Of The Sub Kind

Back to St Mary’s for loading the vehicles again for the 3 hour trip North to Tybee Island.  We had another good meal in St Mary’s at the Riverside Café before leaving; we eat on the porch with a great view.  A blog to follow on the Tybee part of the trip  adventure.

The Atlantic Side Of Sea Camp
The Atlantic Side Of Sea Camp
Landing at Sea Camp Atlantic Side

Landing at Sea Camp Atlantic Side

Easter Weekend Paddling The Huron River Chain


The water level now raised by the Portage Lake dam the State Boat Launch is open again.  More power boats are venturing out onto the waterway, but still a very quiet and peaceful time to paddle the chain.

Canal

Canal Traffic

Spring time foliage is getting going with trees blooming along the river.

Huron River Spring

Huron River Spring Time

Huron river

Spring Time Colors

Huron River View

I paddled for two hours hoping to get in shape for a kayak trip to Cumberland Island GA at the end of the month.  My first kayak and camp expedition along with 10 friends.

Wilbur

Wild Life On Shore

 

March Madness – Kayaking


Well it is early March and in Southeast Michigan and the lakes are open, the air warm 65 to 70 degrees and tempting for a paddle (Global Warming anyone?).  I took advantage and got my sea kayak into the water.   I upset lots of the waterfowl who thought they had the lake to themselves.  The little spots in the photo are hundreds of migrating ducks that took off with my presence, note how far I am away from them (click on the photo to enlarge).  I counted 49 swans, three blue heron, and of course the ubiquitous Canadian geese. I also heard spring peepers, the earliest in the season I can remember them making noise.

March Paddle

Little Portage March Paddle

Swans On Little Portage

Swans On Little Portage

I had on my new Kokatat drysuit that I had exchanged for a larger size having learned that adding layers requires a larger size.  The warm air made the drysuit appear unnecessary but the water is quite cold.  If in the case of an unlikely event (if I did something stupid) and ended up in the water failing to do a roll then I would be in trouble in the cold water without the drysuit. It should be noted that I always wear my PFD, even on the hottest summer days.

Paddle safe this time of year, don’t learn the hard way what the cold water can do to you and how quickly.  Don’t believe me? Go to this link:  http://gokayaknow.com/index.php/great-lakes/peter-dougherty-lake-michigan-kayaking-fatality/

A Qajaq friend of mine posted the following below and the above paddling fatality link, comments welcome:

The ACA commissioned a report of canoe and kayak accidents and fatalities that was published in 2007.

you need to scroll down to the report entitled “Analysis of Factors Associated with Canoe and Kayak Fatalities”

 

The shortened version of the 36 page report is this– if you want to die while in a canoe or kayak, follow this recipe for disaster:
Be male
Go fishing from your craft
Drink plenty of alcohol
Don’t wear your pfd
Paddle alone
Paddle a short boat
Make sure the water is cold
Find the biggest waves and highest winds
Be ignorant of, or willfully blind to, the above factors

Winter Kayaking On The Huron


A friend and myself spent 7 hours on the Huron this last weekend in sea kayaks. We paddled 5 miles against the river current and 10 miles with the current. The section of the river was from Kent Lake Dam to Placeway Picnic Area in the Island Lake State Park.

Huron in Winter

Huron River In Winter

Saturday’s weather was windy and cold, the top decks of the kayaks became icicles during the paddle. I was struggling to keep one hand warm and for it not to lose feeling. I was trying out a new drysuit and discovered the arm seal was so tight it was limiting circulation to my right hand. The suit was just not sized for me, I needed the next size up but did not realize this until I put on enough layers for the cold.  The two hours paddling up the river against the current with the equipment issues for me, made it a long paddle, the return 1.5 hour paddle with the current was more fun.  However by the time we returned to the put in point we were both cold and had a little trouble getting ourselves out of the kayaks.

Huron River

February Paddling

On Sunday was the annual Huron River winter paddle for the local environmental group  using canoes and kayaks with 12 brave souls, getting off the couch and braving the elements to enjoy the river in the winter.  Saturday was cold and windy, Sunday was warmer and sunny a perfect day for the paddle.  The current however was much less on Sunday than Saturday which made for a safer paddle for all who attended.  Hot chocolate, hot coffee and cookies were ready for us at the take out point.

Annual Paddle

Annual Winter Paddle

Kayaks In winter

Getting Near the Takeout

Winter Canoe

The Cookies and Hot Chocolate Are That Way!

Bottom line, you can get out and start kayaking even in the winter. Enjoy the water, wildlife, and the great outdoors.