Kayaking Trip Itinerary: RH-DF-MB-CI-TI-RH: Please Critique

Questions about water transportation and fishing on the island.

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Kayaking Trip Itinerary: RH-DF-MB-CI-TI-RH: Please Critique

Post by dextermichigan » Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:20 pm

Hi guys, I was planning my 2nd Isle Royale trip when one of my companions asked if we should kayak camp. We will have 4 people in our group.

What do you think of the itinerary:

Day 1: Ferry/RockHarbor - Daisy Farm
Day 2: Daisy Farm - Moskey Basin
Day 3: Moskey Basin to Caribou Island
Day 4: Caribou Island to Tookers Island
Day 5: Tookers Island to Rock Harbor/Ferry

I kayak a fair amount in inland rivers and lakes, but never on Lake Superior. This seemed like a safer way to kayak in the safer protected waters. My friends have very little kayaking experience. Does this seem doable?

Do I need a wetsuit/dry suit? Any recommendations on rental places in Copper Harbor?

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Re: Kayaking Trip Itinerary: RH-DF-MB-CI-TI-RH: Please Criti

Post by Lucky Chicken » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:02 am

Water temperature is rearely above 40... you will want some form of protection. I would also want the people in my group to be practiced in deep water reentry. The water is cold, you dont want to be in it for long regardless of what you are wearing.

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Re: Kayaking Trip Itinerary: RH-DF-MB-CI-TI-RH: Please Criti

Post by johnhens » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:19 am

Wet suits are the bare minimum particularly if you go early season. I would try to get the folks who are going out on the water to practice wet escapes and assisted re-entry. The cold waters of Superior are probably not the place to learn. What time of year? You cannot count on space at Caribou and Tookers as they are popular spots with boaters. Not a bad idea to have a weather day built in. I assume you will have a VHF or at least a weather radio along?

Your itinerary is fine for an average paddler.


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Re: Kayaking Trip Itinerary: RH-DF-MB-CI-TI-RH: Please Criti

Post by Redbad » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:52 am

The itinerary is doable. Do you and the other members of your party have experience paddling 7 or so miles at a stretch (2+ hours of paddling)?

The waters of Rock Harbor are "protected". That is NOT the same as being millpond smooth. If there is a strong wind, especially from the south, for more than several hours, there will be a significant sea state in Rock Harbor. You should plan for this possibility especially if you plan on camping on some of the island campgrounds as you could find yourself weathered in.

I also concur with the safety statements made by others. Practice before you get to ISRO.

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Re: Kayaking Trip Itinerary: RH-DF-MB-CI-TI-RH: Please Criti

Post by tree rattt » Thu Apr 09, 2015 8:25 am

Sounds like a good trip!
Last edited by tree rattt on Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Kayaking Trip Itinerary: RH-DF-MB-CI-TI-RH: Please Criti

Post by dextermichigan » Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:43 pm

Thanks for all the tips. I am comfortable with the rescue maneuvers, as I have a habit of crashing nearly any craft (helck, I managed to flip over a dog-sled recently), and paddling multiple miles and hours. My friends are probably weaker paddlers with varying degrees of experience. I did go with them last year and paddled essentially all of Tobin Bay - so I think they can cover the distance (even if they were arguing in a divorce double).

Sounds like I might need to just plan for Daisy Farm and Moskey but maybe skip the islands. Do you think it's a safe paddle around to Chippewa Harbor or is it too exposed to the Big Lake.

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Re: Kayaking Trip Itinerary: RH-DF-MB-CI-TI-RH: Please Criti

Post by RockRiver » Thu Apr 09, 2015 3:24 pm

Your itinerary is very easily done in two days in a sea kayak. I would say that you have built in weather days in this itinerary. The most important piece of safety equipment after your pfd is a good weather radio. Have a good one. The Isle Royale recreational forecast comes out of Copper Harbor at the top of the hour. Base your paddling and where you camp on the forecast. Actually, the best piece of safety gear after your pfd is right between your ears. Plan your next days paddling out and use risk assessment. How much risk you can accept is based on the weakest, least experienced paddler in the group. Listen to that marine forecast and discuss it with the group. In Rock Harbor you really don't have to do any big open water crossings. Lets face it, you came to IR to see IR, not to play in the waves. If it is a wind of 15 mph and four foot waves, you are not going to be viewing much scenery. Use the forecast to be sure that you camp at a mainland cg on those kinds of days and do a day hike up to Mt. Franklin.

What everyone says about cold water is true. IR is no place to fool around. However, if you use your brains and maintain awareness of where you are, there is no reason that you should get into a life threatening position on this trip.

If the members of your group don't have basic equipment or knowledge, consider a IR trip from Kewenaw Adventure Company in Copper Harbor. It's probably not much more expensive to book a trip with them than to rent the equipment somewhere for that length of time. I was not impressed with the rental kayaks in Rock Harbor. They were basically rec boats and you need a sea kayak with spray skirt, etc.

We spent eight days on the Island last May and paddled 101 miles. We went around Blake Point and investigated all the shore around that area to McCargo Cove, came back around Blake four days later and did Tobin Harbor and went back around Scovill Point and investigated all the way to Moskey Basin and out to Mine Point, Conglomerate Bay. The only time I got wet was when I fell getting out of the kayak at Tookers Island. There are four logs half burried under water to the right of the dock. My foot slipped on them and I went in with a mighty splash, twice.

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Re: Kayaking Trip Itinerary: RH-DF-MB-CI-TI-RH: Please Criti

Post by Ingo » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:52 am

Hey Dexter, we canoed from Merritt Lane to Caribou Island in a day, including fishing along the way, burger and beer at the lodge, and stops at Scoville Pt and Tookers Is. I don't think you'll have any problems with the distances. The islands and reefs protect Rock Harbor from any big lake swells, but it is like a 10+ mile long lake--as Redbad points out, a sustained SW or NE wind blowing lengthwise can create significant waves. And a headwind will test your shoulders. But the good thing about the area is there are lots of options not so far apart.

I would too recommend a VHF, since it gives you the weather channels and the ability to communicate if you need to. Not essential, and most of my trips have been without one, but I have felt more comfortable since I picked one up (although have never needed it except for weather). I wouldn't hesitate to plan to do the outer islands, just be prepared to change along the way if conditions dictate and stay at Daisy or 3-Mile. And do pay close attention around the ends of islands and channels--the sea state can change quickly as swells off the lake build on the reefs or funnel through a channel, even if the wind is calm. Also remember the islands will be significantly cooler (or cold) if there's any wind at all off the lake.

I really like Caribou, especially sitting on the pebble beach looking out over Middle Island Passage and the big lake. There's a neat little channel between Inner and Outer Islands that's cool to paddle. The Edison Fishery and Rock Harbor light are historically interesting, and you can climb the light. The Peterson cabin is down the shore of Moskey with it's collection of moose antlers.

Given your group's level of (in)experience I wouldn't advice Chippewa Harbor. Completely exposed and limited bailout spots.
79: worked RH, 01: BI-DB-RH, 02: MC-LR-WL-CH, 05: MI-CI-MB-DF-RH-TM-RH, 09: MC-BI-DN-RH, 11: WC-HC-WC, 12: MC-CB-HL-TH, 13: RH-PI, 14: BI-ML-CI-CH-MB, 16: RH-CI-TI-RH, 17: WI-IM-SB-FL-WC, 18: MC-PC-BI-DB-RH-DF

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