Thoughts on what kayak to use? Thinking about a Hobie Mirage Oasis

Questions about water transportation and fishing on the island.

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Thoughts on what kayak to use? Thinking about a Hobie Mirage Oasis

Post by teddy12b » Wed May 24, 2017 8:27 am

I've kayaked on lakes and river, but never open water like what the Isle Royale is surrounded by. This Sept, I'll be there with two guys who've been there before and are looking to relive that great experience from their past. The plan is to do a lot of kayaking and checking out the little islands, but also do a lot of hiking.

I've got 4 kayaks at the house right now, but they're all short light duty pond/easy river cheapo types that from everything I've heard aren't going to cut it on the big water up there. My wife and I have talked about upgrading to a better/nicer kayak since our backyard touches a river and we can have easy access to it. A thought that went through my head was to buy a Hobie Mirage Oasis because I'd also have the benefit of a pedal drive in the big water, but also since it's a tandem I'd have able gear storage space. I know this kayak would be ideal for me to use at home on our river for the rest of our days, but if this kayak isn't well suited for the paddling around the big island it's a lot easier to rent something too.

My buddy who's leading the trip is definitely the guy who knows good gear from bad gear and is an ultralight type of guy. He's an osprey guy with sleeping bags that pack up to a softball or smaller that keep you warm enough to melt in a snowstorm type of thing. I'm more of an ex-mil big dumb clutz who likes his usgi gortex bivy & patrol bag in a hammock type. I'm not questioning my buddies sound advice, I'm just wondering what other people have done up there and what their thoughts are on Hobie pedal powered kayaks.

Hopefully someone here is a kayak expert and could lend me some good advice.

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Re: Thoughts on what kayak to use? Thinking about a Hobie Mirage Oasis

Post by Redbad » Wed May 24, 2017 1:46 pm

Open top kayaks have their place, but ISRO in September might not be that place unless you will be sticking with some of the interior lakes (and are willing to portage a kayak to get to the lake(s)). The inner part of Tobin Harbor up to some of the islands near Scoville Point is also protected, as is Duncan Bay past the Narrows, Stockley Bay, Robinson Bay, and Pickerel Cove. There will be portages to get to these locations.

To get to the interior lakes, you will need to kayak from Snug Harbor to Moskey Basin, about a 10 mile paddle. Rock Harbor is mostly protected, but it can get rough.

September is already fall on ISRO and Lake Superior will be more active, meaning that you will be dealing with waves and surf. Blake Point and the Palisades are not to be trifled with in any kind of a sea state. Having Oasis drive could be a real disadvantage if you have to surf onto a beach or if you get bounced on a reef or shallows and there are many of these in the locations above.

You might want to look at a decked kayak or a sea kayak. You might also want to consider a dry suit. I believe Keweenaw Adventure Company in Copper Harbor does rentals and outfitting, so that could be an option. There are probably similar outfitters in Minnesota.

You do need open water experience before you get to Isle Royale...

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Re: Thoughts on what kayak to use? Thinking about a Hobie Mirage Oasis

Post by RockRiver » Thu May 25, 2017 4:27 am

As a sea kayaker who lives in the UP and does all of his paddling on Lake Superior, please believe me when I tell you that the kayak that you mention is not suited for IR. A sea kayak is the only suitable boat to use on Lake Superior. It will have two bulkheads in it so there will be flotation. There are some great deals on Craigs list. Look for a boat like the Wilderness Systems Tempest or Tsunami, they are great entry level boats that will keep you safe. You will be amazed how much you can take with you. We have been to IR three times and we have seen people get away with some really awful choices in boats for the open lake, but tragedy was just around the corner and it happens all too often. I have lost count of the kayak fatalities on the Great Lakes so far this year. I really struggle trying to answer questions like yours because I don't want to sound preachy like I have seen in other places. Camping out of a sea kayak is really a great way to see IR. You will see more of it than any hiker will in a single trip. Two of our trips we paddled 100 miles in eight days. If you have any specific questions about kayaking on the open lake around IR, I would be very glad to answer them. On all our trips we paddled on days so calm you could have floated along on a pool toy and the next day we paddled in conditions that could have killed someone with the wrong equipment. I guess the real question is can you tell what those days are for your equipment. This site may help you:

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Re: Thoughts on what kayak to use? Thinking about a Hobie Mirage Oasis

Post by Base654 » Fri May 26, 2017 11:44 pm

I'll be short and just agree with RockRiver, I am an avid kayaker/canoer and kayaked The Island last year in late Aug/early Sept. The only time you should consider an open kayak on Isle Royale is when you are only on the smaller inland lakes and transportation is not the reason. I have a tempest pro and love it. When in doubt, remember Superior sunk the Edmond Fitzgerald.

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