Tag Archives: Great Lakes

Weekend Outing: Burnham Point State Park, NY 8/15 to 8/17/08

This will be my second outing in the month of August 2008, and it should be interesting. I am planning to camp on the shores of the St. Lawrence Seaway at Burnham Point State Park. This is a little bit downstream from Long Point State Park.

This is the route I have planned:

burnhampt.png

Overall this should be a nice 9.5 mile outing for an afternoon. It offers the option of heading upstream to Cape Vincent to hang out for a bit if I get an early start.

Once again I’ve planned this route so the outgoing leg is to the west against the wind and current and the return leg follows an easterly course to the campground.

It’s tough to see on the posted graphic, but I shouldn’t have a problem with any lakers. If I keep close to the southern shore the water should be too shallow for their draft. I figure any lakers I see should be at least 1/2 to 1 mile north of my planned route.

Burnham Point is also an interesting state park because the sites on shore do not have any vehicle access. Campers have to hike their gear in. This should be a good stepping stone to later camping adventures involving more strenuous hikes with gear or situations where I won’t have easy access to my car.

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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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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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A Call to Action for the Great Lakes…

Here is another good opinion piece regarding what we must do to shepherd the immense water resources of the Great Lakes for current and future generations:

Globe environment reporter Martin Mittelstaedt’s excellent article The Great Lakes Disappearing Act summarized succinctly the case of our shrinking Great Lakes. He rightly points to global warming and dredging in the St. Clair River as major threats to lake levels, noting that Lake Superior is setting records for low-water marks, and levels in the other four sweet-water seas are well below long-term averages.

We must also take seriously the burgeoning water demands of rapidly growing urban centres, both within and beyond the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ecosystem, looking to the lakes as the solution to their water woes. Most publicized among these are recurring plans and propositions to move Great Lakes water to far-off places facing water shortages, such as large-scale diversion of water across the continent to the arid southern United States.

But demands from much closer to home are likely the bigger threat to the Great Lakes, since they appear much more feasible from an economic perspective. The strongest of these are coming from rapidly growing communities just beyond the basin boundary, such as Waukesha and New Berlin in Wisconsin, looking to dip into Lake Michigan to replace depleted local groundwater supplies.

Thank our good Canadian friends at the Globe and Mail for this excellent piece entitled, Your tap, your toilet and the Great Lakes

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More Trouble for the Great Lakes…

From our friends at the Globe and Mail comes a frightening new story regarding the current trend of decreasing water levels in almost all of the Great Lakes…

The Great Lakes disappearing act:
Government forecasters are projecting that Lake Superior, the largest of the five, will fall to its lowest level for September since modern recordkeeping began nearly a century ago. The amount flowing out of the lake at its outlet, the St. Mary’s River, has plunged too, and would have to rise by a staggering 50 per cent to reach the average of the past century.

Levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron are also sagging, Ontario is down, as is Erie – although the latter, the smallest by volume, has been the least affected.

What’s going on? While there is no scientific certainty about what’s ailing the Great Lakes – which together form the world’s largest interconnected body of fresh water – some fear global warming is at work, causing them to shrink.

Yikes. This is the last thing that needs to be piled on top of all the other issues affecting the region. Hopefully the manmade or natural cause of this depletion can be identified and remedied before things get too far out of hand. I’ve been following the water crisis in Australia, and I would hate to see that happen in the Great Lakes region!

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