Itinerary question with an inflatable kayak

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Itinerary question with an inflatable kayak

Post by Kelly »

I once spent a pleasant week at Belle Isle, marred only by lack of a boat.

Since then, I have purchased and used an inflatable kayak (nothing fancy) and am considering returning to Belle Isle with it. I'd like to paddle around Belle Harbor and Robinson Bay, spend some time at Pickerel Cove, and maybe head over to Birch Island and McCargoe Cove.

Given that information, what is the advisability of using that kayak on those waters?
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Re: Itinerary question with an inflatable kayak

Post by Ingo »

I'll be base camping at B.I. this summer, but with a canoe. It's hard for me to imagining venturing very far in any inflatable that is not designed for expedition tripping. Punctures/leaks aside, it could be one heck of a paddle, say 4 miles from Pickerel, if the wind turned on you--it can come up fast.
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Re: Itinerary question with an inflatable kayak

Post by Bobcat1 »

Ingo is right - the wind is a big wildcard. A big inflatable like that, you are at the mercy of wind. I would, for sure, plan to spend your last day or two at the spot you plan for the ferry to pick you up, to reduce the chance you miss your pick-up because of unfavorable wind. Also, typically, the wind is calmest at night and in the early morning. If you are not an early riser, forget it - by midmorning the winds are often picking up and increase throughout the afternoon. The stretch you mention from Belle Isle or Pickerel Cove over to McCargo Cove and Birch Island is fully exposed, out on the main Lake even if you hug the shoreline.

A group of people did the "grand round" with packrafts, finishing while I was at Rock Harbor, in 2019 so I have seen it done. Not sure if they stayed at Belle Isle, but they did go from McCargoe across to Pickerel at least, and came over the Duncan Bay portage into Tobin Harbor. In 2016, I crossed paths with a large family, supposedly in two groups but in reality traveling and camping together in a party of about 12, all in kayaks and the youngest kid, age 9, was paddling a "rubber ducky" kayak and being sometimes towed by his dad. This family spent their entire vacation on Rock Harbor. Your Sea Eagle is not the craft I would choose for use on Lake Superior, but in sheltered water you may be ok. If you are planning to load up and move camp to McCargoe Cove, using the Sea Eagle, that's a much riskier thing. Do you have the skills to handle a paddlecraft in 3-ft waves and a 15mph crosswind? That's a very normal afternoon condition in good weather. Bad weather - all bets are off.
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Re: Itinerary question with an inflatable kayak

Post by treeplanter »

"Your Sea Eagle is not the craft I would choose for use on Lake Superior, but in sheltered water you may be ok. If you are planning to load up and move camp to McCargoe Cove, using the Sea Eagle, that's a much riskier thing. Do you have the skills to handle a paddlecraft in 3-ft waves and a 15mph crosswind? That's a very normal afternoon condition in good weather. Bad weather - all bets are off."

I was going to respond, but after reading Bobcat's answer, no need to. What he wrote, above, says it all.
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Re: Itinerary question with an inflatable kayak

Post by torpified »

Is it portageable at all? Another play would be to set up shop at Chippewa Harbor and explore (even camp at, if it holds gear) the inland lakes.

Anyway, I'll follow your plans with great interest, because one of these years I'm going branch out into waterborne exploration of ISRO!
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Re: Itinerary question with an inflatable kayak

Post by backwoods doc »

Malone is another option. You can get a shelter right on the shore, paddle out to Wright and other islands on calm days, fish for lake trout in Siskiwit Lake, and paddle up to Wood for the prettiest inland lake campsite on the island.
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Re: Itinerary question with an inflatable kayak

Post by Bobcat1 »

treeplanter wrote: Fri Jan 07, 2022 7:25 pm after reading Bobcat's answer, no need to. What he wrote, above, says it all.
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Re: Itinerary question with an inflatable kayak

Post by Kelly »

Thanks so much for all of the feedback—it covers about the range I was hoping for.

For starters, I have no lake paddling skills to speak of. Most of my paddling experience has been on rivers in Missouri and Michigan, and rivers are not the same.
Ingo wrote: Fri Jan 07, 2022 1:38 pm Punctures/leaks aside, it could be one heck of a paddle, say 4 miles from Pickerel, if the wind turned on you--it can come up fast.
Noted.
Bobcat1 wrote: Fri Jan 07, 2022 4:49 pm I would, for sure, plan to spend your last day or two at the spot you plan for the ferry to pick you up, to reduce the chance you miss your pick-up because of unfavorable wind. Also, typically, the wind is calmest at night and in the early morning. If you are not an early riser, forget it - by midmorning the winds are often picking up and increase throughout the afternoon. The stretch you mention from Belle Isle or Pickerel Cove over to McCargo Cove and Birch Island is fully exposed, out on the main Lake even if you hug the shoreline.
Good advice on where to spend the last couple of days. I am not an early riser unless I have to be. When you say "night" do you mean at some point after dark wind tends to calm down? Or something else?

In my case, early rising would involve an alarm which is not what I do on ISRO. But. I also don't sleep well when camping so it is perhaps not so bad. Maybe I'll turn a moose recording into an alarm! I will get out of bed for moose!

Venturing into a fully exposed part of the lake is not on my agenda, so that leaves out MC and BI in the aforementioned itinerary.
torpified wrote: Sat Jan 08, 2022 8:08 am Is it portageable at all? Another play would be to set up shop at Chippewa Harbor and explore (even camp at, if it holds gear) the inland lakes.
It is quite portageable! That was a requirement. In my quest to explore, various floating itineraries are being explored, and the CH one sounds like a nice option.

This kayak is marketed as a two-person kayak, which it is, if both persons are not very large and if little gear is carried. If it's just me and gear, it's acceptable.
backwoods doc wrote: Sat Jan 08, 2022 10:39 am Malone is another option. You can get a shelter right on the shore, paddle out to Wright and other islands on calm days, fish for lake trout in Siskiwit Lake, and paddle up to Wood for the prettiest inland lake campsite on the island.
Really? I've been skeptical about that option, since my understanding is that Siskiwit Lake might as well be Lake Superior when it's windy. And is Malone Bay sheltered enough for a craft such as mine?
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Re: Itinerary question with an inflatable kayak

Post by backwoods doc »

Kelly wrote: Sun Jan 09, 2022 3:33 pm Really? I've been skeptical about that option, since my understanding is that Siskiwit Lake might as well be Lake Superior when it's windy. And is Malone Bay sheltered enough for a craft such as mine?
The wind on Siskiwit Lake tends to be out of the SW, and yes, can produce whitecaps out in the middle of the lake. There is no comparison to the waves on Superior. Even when it's windy, it's easy to hug the southern shore and paddle to Wood Lake, with the wind at your back.

The the potential concern is paddling in the SW direction on Siskiwit Lake. It tends to be quiet in the early morning (before about 9:30 or 10). Last summer we had a magical paddle across a completely still lake at 7AM, the clouds and shore perfectly mirrored in the water's surface. Unforgettable.

RE: Malone Bay, it all depends on the day.

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Re: Itinerary question with an inflatable kayak

Post by Redbad »

I have paddled around ISRO by packraft, both the 5 fingers area (Rock Harbor, Tobin Harbor, Duncan Bay, Belle Isle) and the interior chain of lakes (McCargoe Cove, Chicken Bone lake, Livermore, Lesage, Ritchie, Intermediate, Siskiwit, Whittlesley, and Chippewa Bay). I have an Alpaka whitewater packraft. Wind is a big issue and it will make travel by packraft difficult or impossible especially in exposed areas like Blake point, Duncan Bay, Outer Belle Harbor, Indian Point, and Lake Siskiwit. By design pack rafts have very little draft and high sides so they will be influenced by wind and launching into breaking waves is very difficult without swamping or worse.

On the other hand, if you build weather plans into your itinerary, say staying at a camp site an extra day or having a bailout campground, then you won't feel compelled to test your skills against the weather.

Good luck!
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