Good 'Yak for the Great Lakes?

now those are fighting words…NJ is (last I heard)60% forested. lol

Kwickle, look at my profile. Where’s my favorite paddling area?

Couldn’t help myself when I read…“For those not familiar with the great lakes” … Who on this site is not familiar with the Great Lakes. At the very least knows where they are?


Andy - New slogan for NJ
On the Bob & Tom show this AM I heard a new slogan for NJ. Since it is known as the “Garden State”, the new one should be “New Jersey: Plant someone here”.


Oh well, it sounded funny when I heard it.

I did grow up in Michigan
I did grow up in Michigan, and do have great respect for our lakes.

I’ve seen some weather that would make most folks (residents even) eyes pop.

But that doesnt mean I fear them… I’ve also seen more good weather on the lakes than bad. I wouldnt plan on going out on the lakes when bad weather is brewing. Also, I have a gps, as well as a compass and navigating skills from years of bushwacking.

My main question though was, would a nice 14ft boat, say a carolina 13.5 or a pungo 140 with sealed floation front and back, a good skirt, navigational aids, and safty gear be a reasonable option, or do you really need to spring the 1k+ for a 16ft sea kayak…

thanks for all the input also

If You Must…
the Carolina is a more “sea worthy” boat because it does have two bulkheads. And, more important, it has a smaller cockpit. If you have a skirt, it less likely to get swamped by the wakes of powerboaters on a wonderful benign day. :slight_smile: The gigantic cockpit of the Pungo would make any skirt more suceptible to implosion by a a dumping wave/wake.


Agree with Sing…
You’ll want a longer kayak eventually but gettin out there is what it’s all about. Just know the limitations of the craft and yourself but you will be fine with a kayk that has 2 bulk heads and a spray skirt even if it’s 12’ long.

I’m getting…

– Last Updated: Jan-31-06 5:19 PM EST –

I'm getting a rubber Bulkhead behind the seat and a floatation bag in the front at the bow.

OT Castine
You may want to keep a look-out for a used Old Town Castine. I imagine a gently used one goes for about $500. It is about 13’ long, but has sealed bulkheads and a smaller cockpit.

great lakes

i’d second everybody’s opinion on getting a longer used sea kayak. i bought used and got a great deal - make sure you check out rutabaga in madison! i take my cd extreme out in the bay (Green Bay) but won’t do lake michigan until i’m able to roll (and upcoming classes at the Y should fix that). even on the bay, i’ve encountered high winds and big waves which the extreme handled well. a rudder definitely comes in handy with a strong crosswind, otherwise i don’t use it. find a good deal on used and you won’t lose a cent, you can always turn it around and get what you paid for it! happy paddling!

Use what you have . . .
Just use it within its limits.

If you want to do crossings, or be far from shore, you will need speed and a design that can handle the sea state. You can get a better boat when that’s where your interests lie.

I don’t think Lake Michigan will blow you out to sea just because your boat is 14 ft. Further, there are no tide rips or currents to contend with.

Practice re-entries and rescues until your an ace, then have fun.

Lake Mich

– Last Updated: Jan-31-06 9:20 PM EST –

does have rips, and undertows...and what is called a system caused tide

the undertows are dangerous, the other two are mild a seche can at times be seen in the river mouths as the water rushes upstream...Lake Superior is well known for all the above mentioned traits too

The seche is not like a tidal race or anything like that but it does exist

Storms on the great Lakes can be sudden and violent and can "blow" you out to sea.....and no matter what boat you have , sometimes you will not be able to outrun them

Best Wishes

This picture is of me 22 miles out into Lake Superior in the Apostle Islands (north of Cat Island, comming back from North Twin) it was the blow from some tornadoes in Northern Minnesota
picture was taken by my wife...when it hit us the winds went up to about 35/40 mph and the waves went up to 5 feet...we were lucky....we surfed ito Cat Island and waited the rest out

Great Pic! And then you got water spouts
to worry about - well not really, they’re very rare and usually in the late summer and fall. I’ve witnessed many

But it’s certainly tricky weather out there. Being a glider pilot and spending a lot of time sitting at launch waiting for conditions I’ve seen some very interesting weather phenomenon. Storms from Wisconsin move in on my side of the Lake very quickly. Lake Superior is a whole different story. A couple of years ago eating breakfast in Munising and planning to paddle out to Grand Island the wind was blowing off-shore at about 10-12kts and the Lake was flat, after breakfast it was on-shore at 10-12kts. By the time we got to the beach it was 20kts with 3-5’ waves.

got to a symposium
there is one coming up this summer in Door County,dont know the exact dates but you can surf for them…i’m going to try to attend to see what its like up north :wink:

Strong Winds And Waves
are the vital ingredients for rip currents. Anytime water gets piled up against a shore, it has to go back out somehow. The water on the beach/shore will seek a low point to “drain” back out, while more water comes in over the top of this draining water. This is the stuff of undertow and rip currents.

Water pushed by wind through or around structures such as islands and point will also form a “current.”

I would think in the large bodies of water like the Great Lakes, the annual “turnover” or layers of different temperature water may also produce a current, albeit it slight. Wind is also the vital factor in enhancing the turnover.

Again, strong winds which would produce these currents are days to avoid going out in if your not ready or equipped for it.


Good Pic!
And nice Nordkapp!

My first thought when initially reading the start of this post was to recomend a Nordkapp for Great Lakes paddling ;-).

I always hesitate sugesting any boat to anyone other that that they might want to try a certain 6 or so kayaks, after they have determined what kind of paddling they want to do, wheather or not they like skeg or rudder or au-natural. and how much experiance they have had…oh yeah…paper or plastic…I mean Glass or plastic…but after saying that I do love my Nordkapp

here are a couple more pictures of Outer Island it two different moods and then just an end of a day

Best Wishes


Avoiding bad weather

– Last Updated: Feb-02-06 7:56 AM EST –

Well - sometimes easier said than done. I am not familiar with the weather on the Great Lakes for paddling, except for the huge T-storms I've seen come up on Lake Erie in all of 15 minutes. In cases like that, you have to be very close to shore to get in before the weather hits.

The problem is that just about everyone who paddles long enough gets caught out in something they hadn't anticipated. The diff between the really smart paddlers and the less so (like me) is that they get skunked like this fewer times.
The general advice, to get a boat with two sealed bulkheads, a smaller cockpit and some lessons will get you a decent distance. I would also add full deck rigging if you are likely to be out alone - some of the transition touring boats lack enough rigging to make a solo re-entry very likely unless you can wet re-enter and roll.

But, unless you are very lucky or extraordinarily prudent, I'd also suggest that you prepare for worse conditions than you think you'll encounter. At some point you'll be glad you did.

Still trying to sort out this advice?
Let me add another resource for your consideration.

Good luck!


More good pics!
Thanks again.

I feared sounding snotty by recommending a Nordkapp. Though inappropriate for novice, it struck me as the most concise way of indicating that one should take the Great Lakes very seriously. A good boat for the Great Lakes would be a very serious sea kayak.

There is an Eddyline Falcon18
listed in the classifieds and located in Michigan for $1300 That would be a great boat for some Great Lakes.