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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.