Category Archives: Michigan

Trip Report: Little Traverse Bay, MI, 7/1/08

Sorry about the long period between posts. I’ve been busy starting my new position at work and on the road. Fortunately, I was able to get on the water a couple times while I was in Michigan.

My first outing on the water was between the beach at Petoskey State Park and the waterfront of Harbor Springs, MI. This route is seen in the plot below:

LittleTraverse.png

Note that this route does not show the return leg. This is because I lingered in front of Harbor Springs too long to make some adjustments to my cockpit coaming. This lack of movement caused my GPS to shut down, and I failed to notice. The roundtrip was about 8.2 miles in length and took about 3.5 hours.

Some of the notable points during this journey:

    Petoskey State Park to Harbor Springs, MI:

  • The initial northward leg wasn’t too tough
  • However, I did forget to don my paddle leash from the outset, d’oh!
  • Turning west I faced a breeze of about 5-10 kts. This would eventually strengthen to 15-20 kts as I reached Harbor Springs.
  • The Cooper did very well paddling into swells and waves I made at about 3 feet. The skin-on-frame design slithers over the waves easily.
  • Two waves in rapid succession were a challenge, but this would be true regardless of kayak type. The Cooper did fine when the second wave broke over the bow deck.
  • Thank goodness I was able to hop out near the public boat launch in Harbor Springs and resecure my cockpit coaming.
  • The return leg would prove much more interesting.
  • On the return leg the wind and waves originated from the SW
  • Again the Cooper did well in 15-20 kt winds and 3-4 foot swells.
  • The key to not capsizing in such conditions is rolling your hips into the oncoming swell. The lower center of gravity provided by the original seat is also of great help providing stability in these conditions.
  • Another simple, yet key modification, of the original Cooper seat is the addition of a Seal Line Discovery Kayak Seat Cushion. Let about 1/2 the air out and you have a massive improvement in seating comfort!
  • The leecocking of the Cooper did get a bit annoying. I really need to install my rudder one of these days.
  • If I had a track of the return leg it would show I cut across the “corner” present in the outgoing leg. I did this to shorten the period of time I was getting pounded by waves
  • Upon arriving at Petoskey I had to turn the Cooper so the bow was pointing W/SW, into the waves. Trying to ride the waves into the beach is a recipe for disaster.
  • I timed my exit from the boat almost perfectly, but the bottom was a foot deeper than I thought! Fortunately, I was able to get my other leg out of the boat and get away with a little hopping around using my paddle and the kayak for support.
  • After that I got washed up on the beach and I stowed my kayak near a Hobie Cat. The next morning I would find the cockpit full of wind-blown sand. ALWAYS turn your boat over if you’re going to leave it assembled overnight!
  • I celebrated my expedition with a delicious 1/2 lb. perch dinner straight from the Great Lakes and prepared by my friends at Scalawags. I washed this awesome grub down with a couple bottles of Bell’s Pale Ale.
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Bear River Falls and Rapids

Kirk over at Hearthside Grove was kind enough to venture out in the cold and take some photos of the falls and rapids near the mouth of the Bear River. Kirk posted his shots to Flickr, and I’ve linked to them below:

Falls:

Falls

Rapids:

Rapids

The rapids are probably manageable for the savvy whitewater paddler, but there is no way I can see getting a 16’6″ folding sea kayak through those! Thanks again to Kirk for proving that I’ll need to figure out a spot to get fished out before the river mouth!

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Northern Michigan Paddling Resources

This post was prompted by an informative comment left by Kirk up at Hearthside Grove up in Petoskey, MI.

Kirk was able to confirm that yes, there is a significant drop-off near the mouth of the Bear River where it enters Little Traverse Bay.

Getting fished out before this point will be a must!

Kirk was also able to point out a couple local businesses able to assist the intrepid paddler:

  • The Bear River Canoe Livery, just outside Petoskey, is probably able to answer the remainder of my questions about the Bear River. They rent paddling gear and offer a variety of canoe and kayak trips down the Bear River.
  • The Bahnhof, just inside Petoskey also offers a variety of kayaks for rent or sale. They sound like they have a good range of experience on staff, and are probably able to help with all your paddling needs!

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Projected 2008 Outing: Bear River, Michigan

For the next entry in my series of proposed outings, I present the Bear River!

BearRiver.png

The total length of this planned route is about 12 miles from Walloon Lake to the bend just before the river enters Petoskey proper. There are a few things to keep in mind about this proposed route, and I need to try and research them before I get there in July!

    Bear River, Michigan Pointers:

  • Overall Journey Length should be about 12 miles.
  • This distance should be manageable since it will be with the current.
  • From the internet it is unclear if the Bear River is navigable by kayak over its entire length. 24k topo maps don’t do much to clarify this either.
  • It’s also unclear what type of boat traffic I might have to share the river with in the summer.
  • Regardless of the level of boat traffic an early start is warranted.
  • I plan to get fished out before entering Petoskey because it is more likely there will be an open area to knock down the Cooper.
  • The other reason for not paddling to the mouth of the Bear River is that area has some Class II/Class III rapids. The Folbot Cooper is a very capable sea kayak, but at 16’6″ it is unsuited for that type of use!
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Projected 2008 Kayaking Outings, Part I

The first outing I’ve planned for 2008 is something that I’ve wanted to try for a while. The plan is to camp out in the Dunes at Petoskey State Park in Petoskey, Michigan.

This should serve as a great jumping off point for paddles along the coast of Little Traverse Bay to the marinas at Harbor Springs and Petoskey, Michigan.

The projected routes are shown in the image below. Both of them are about 7 miles long, roundtrip:

2008_petoskey.png

The only concerns about these two tracks are the appearance of whitecaps or excessive boat traffic. Docks or some kind of landings should be available at the midpoints of both routes.

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