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.


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


Leave A Comment


  1. Nice post. The GLSKS was fantastic and the photos brought back great memories.


    David Johnston

  2. thanks for the comment, appreciate it. Bob

  3. This event sounds like a great time! Will try to be there for 2013

  4. Great run down, Bob!

    I’m sorry I didn’t see your blog earlier, but it was a refreshing flashback to summer from the depths of a cold UP winter.

    And congrats on the new boat! I still have the Gray Nordkapp, but my primary boat is also a Cetus MV.



  5. Thanks for the nice comment Jeremy, summer is coming. No snow here was in the 40’s yesterday, but going into the teens this week without the snow to enjoy it. I had a great time on your paddle, my favorite one for last summer. I’m already paid up (bonus for buying the Cetus) for next summer’s UP GLSKS. Best Regards, Bob

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