canoe on superior?

I have always wanted to canoe on superior but I wonder how many people do it. I would have extra flotation in place and a wetsuit on for sure. Let me hear it folks, good idea or not?

I always wanted to, too
Drove the entire south shore over several days in the summer of 04 with my outrigger but, due to unrelenting wind and waves, was afraid to put on every single day and place.

Very frustrating.

So I changed my travel plans and crossed over the top of Huron into Georgian Bay. PADDLING PARADISE!!!

Of course, if the weather is reasonable and you are prepared and careful, there are certainly hundreds of great miles of paddling on Superior’s shores.
There’s a recent post there by a guy that did on a relatively calm day.

Paddle Smart
I enjoy an occasional paddle on the big lake, but I find I do need to focus and be alert more being out there. I find it is not as relaxing as on my usual casual paddling outing on inland lakes. That involves waiting for favorable conditions, checking NOAA weather and not launching if the forecast says degrading conditions, staying well within self rescue distance of shore, playing it safe and getting off the lake with approaching fog banks or wind clouds, staying within the shore shadow of off shore wind, keeping watch for a rogue wave; and when paddling along cliffs, keeping track of the distance to the last place you passed on shore where you could take out if necessary, and being mindful of the additive wave effects wave reflection causes.

Iffin’ yer git a chance…

– Last Updated: Jun-03-10 9:10 AM EST –

Watch Bill Mason's "WaterWalker" film. He gots some "excitin'" footage in it of paddlin' Superior.

Selected footage starts at the 25:15 minute mark...


Read he McGuffin book.
Gary and Joan McGuffin circumnavigated Superior in the late 80’ using canoe and kayak. That book probably has pretty good info on what works best where.

big lakes, hot temps, breezes = heaven
On those 90F+ summer days there’s nothing like a big lake to produce comfortable winds…

That’s where flatwater paddling got it’s start, was certainly realized by Sig Sigurd, Bill Mason & others.


Now THAT’S a swim!

After watching those 5 minutes of video, I’ve changed my plans to canoe on Lake Superior in the next near gale.

Sure if you take your time
We have paddled a canoe on Superior several times from the Pic River to Michipicoten Harbor.

Allowing plenty of days to wait out a foul wind and getting going early are key. Work with nature.

We didnt find hot days on the water. We did find a thermocline. Above two feet it can be 70 degree water and below two feet in the thirties.

A spray cover (LOL) helps with keeping wave splash out.

I have done a couple of quick solo daytrips out of Gargantua and Hattie cove in a solo canoe.

Like DM says pick your time and have good weather and sea sense. There is poor weather radio reception on some parts of Superior (we kept getting Whitefish Bay,not our area)

We did take drysuits…but we had to force ourselves to wear them as the weather was nice. However the lake can go from zero to 100 in just a few minutes and often does in the afternoon. If it starts to get bad pull over. It wont get better quickly.

And fer golly sake take a topo map. And pay attention. On the Canadian side there is sometimes no place to pull over as the mountains go right into the water.

Beware the reflecting waves and clapotis too.

for the advice all. I think this might be the year i try it. Mr Green

What portion of Superior do you
want to try?

Between all of us we might be able to point you to better resources about sea conditions and rescue contacts, should you ( and I sincerely hope not though a rescue plan is always a good idea).

With winds a priority the sea forecasts between North and South are often diametrically different.

any body of water is navigable
if it’s a calm day.

Powers of the Wind did it. But he had to.

Stan Rogers - White Squall
’But I told that kid a hundred times, “Don’t take the Lakes for granted.

They go from calm to a hundred knots so fast they seem enchanted.”

But tonight sime red-eyed Wiarton girl lies staring at the wall,

And her lover’s gone into a white squall.’

I’ve seen a few people in canoes
on Superior, but I’m not sure if I would do it the way they do: no PFD’s, no drysuits (or even wetsuits). I think they must be people on their way to or from the BWCA who think Superior would be a cool day paddle or something.

If you’re prepared for the weather to change from balmy (whenever it GETS balmy) to miserable in a short time span, you should be OK.

you havent seen me
I wear the drysuit and PFD…

Things are calmest on Superior before July 15. After that the wind gets friskier.

I only have August this year and might do Puskaskwa carefully down and back…allowing for fifty percent of scheduled days to be bad. And of course with a PLB …it will be solo canoe

Yeah, I would probably remember
seeing a SAFE canoeist/kayaker. Even the powerboaters seem to be pushing the limit, running open aluminum jon boats in in November in 3-foot waves with no PFD’s, etc. Scary.

Regarding those aforementioned 90+ degree days…Even on the rare occasions Duluth actually gets one of these, the water is still icy. Last year on such a day, in the 30 seconds that it took me to get my gear stowed while standing next to my boat, my feet started to go numb. And this while wearing dive booties.

Massive respect for the big lake.