Hello new to kayaking

Hello my name is Craig and I am new to kayaking. I just picked up an wilderness systems tsunami 140, I have gone out on it 3-4 times already on lake st. Clair (anchor bay area) near new Baltimore / fair haven. I got it wanting to do some 1-3 day kayak camping or just getting out on the water near my home. The last time out I ended up flipping it trying to surf some waves. I had about a 10 min swim in cold water back to shore only wearing jeans and a cotton hoodie and my PFD :frowning: that was not fun by any means. I did not know what I was getting into, I had no spray skirt no paddle float no pump and I had never practiced deep water re entry or shallow for that matter. My foolishness aside, I am looking to learn to how to be a safer paddler. My question are, are there any places to practiced indoor around my area cheaply? Are the any groups / clubs in my area ( I google searched and found few in my area)? I would like to find others in my area that share my new found passion and don’t mined helping out a new guy. I mite be done for the fall/winter on the cold lake st. Clair. Any advice on the matter would be most helpful thanks.

Check out these places

– Last Updated: Oct-31-12 11:32 AM EST –

That is, assuming you are talking St Clair Lake in Michigan. It took me some hunting around to find one place that had all three names, not uncommon ones.

But you probably haven't looked broadly enough. I found the following.

Riverside Kayak Connection in Wyandotte MI, 1 hour drive from New Baltimore, they do lessons etc year round via access to a YMCA pool. Driving an hour to save your life is a cheap deal.
Link is http://riversidekayak.com/lessons-classes

The Kayak Connection, Algonac MI, 20 minutes from New Baltimore.
I don't see any indication that they are a good fit for things like winter pool sessions from their web site, and they seem to be more about kayak fishing, but they do have ACA instructors. So they may offer or know of more opportunities than I see on the web site. Worth a phone call at least.
Link is http://www.thekayakstore.com/index.php

I also found an outfit called Black Parrot Kayaking that operates some out of Brighton, but they are a further drive than either of the above and there is no indication on their weeb site that they offer anything for winter.

Also, FYI right now is a good time to go to places like Northwest River Sports (nrsweb.com) and pick up last year's models of good paddling clothes for a discount. The window will last maybe a couple of more weeks. Consider taking a look - if you are paddling from Detroit and north, dry wear is your future even for three season paddling.

glad you made it to shore
Wow, you dodged a bullet with that capsize! Glad it turned into a lesson rather than a tragedy. At least you’ve got a good attitude about making up for the shortage in gear and training. (see this local news item down where I live for a similar event that did not end as well last weekend)


Where did you buy your boat? Having worked for a number of years in outdoor gear sales and education I always made sure that the folks I was selling to knew what accessories and safety equipment and instruction they needed before they left the store with their new toys. Even when I sell a used boat through Craigslist I have a talk with the purchaser about their planned use and advise them on precautions and additional items they need to have. It concerns me that the people you bought it from didn’t bring up having a pump at the very least, not to mention a skirt and proper paddling clothes. And they should have recommended basic instruction since you were a novice.

For any future outdoors outing, even hiking, jeans and hoodies are the worst possible outfit, as you have discovered. The heavy cotton not only soaks up water like a sponge, it will evaporate faster than any other material, causing hypothermia. In cool wet and windy conditions it has actually been demonstrated that you will get colder much faster wearing soaked cotton clothing than being buck naked. Polyester fleece or wool is a better choice, and polyester and/or nylon athletic clothes are preferable to anything cotton. Do some googling on the topic of “cold water immersion” and you will learn that even the most pleasant looking ponds in Michigan can be deadly at this time of year if you are not dressed right – just like Lake Arthur was to the hapless raccoon hunter in the news item.

I lived and kayaked in Michigan for 8 years (mainly the west and north). There are great paddling options there and plenty of resources in the state as well as good outfitters (for which Celia has already done the legwork for you in her previous post). Though I usually prefer the smaller independent oufitters, there is also an REI store not far from you in Troy (10-15 miles?) – check with them on their kayaking class schedules. The one in my town has winter pool sessions. That would be another good place to go for your needed accessories and clothing.

You might want to check activity bulletin boards, like Meetup.com, to see if there is an active kayaking group in your area. Paddling with some experienced people would be safer on water like St. Clair than being alone.

Many, many kayak shops,clubs

– Last Updated: Oct-31-12 12:16 PM EST –

You're new, and basically just ""winged it"".
Thought it was easy, no problem, and got a wakeup call.
October, Lake St. Clair, newbie solo paddle - ouch !

A simple internet search would yield BOATLOADS of info
for classes, instruction, groups, etc. but you
simply didn't make the effort.

Others have done the homework you should have done.
Obviously you have internet access but were TOO lazy.

No pity party for you...You got owned by Lake St. Clair

Riverside Kayak Connection
Address: 4016 Biddle Avenue,
Wyandotte, MI 48192
Phone: (734) 285-2925

at least he’s asking now. Searches don’t always give the first hand aspects of which shops are better for someone in his situation. Shops that sell some of this gear unfortunately don’t warn and direct people to classes so having such “adventures” happens. Compassion is a wonderful thing.

Deep Trouble

– Last Updated: Oct-31-12 1:09 PM EST –

is the title of a book worth reading over the winter.
It's a series of accounts of kayak incidents over the years. Some involved novices others involved experienced skilled paddlers. It'll give you a perspective of what can go wrong.

Not called for.
That kind of response is not appropriate.

You would not say that if we were in a room all together.

St. Clair

– Last Updated: Oct-31-12 12:56 PM EST –

You're new, and basically just ""winged it"".
Thought it was easy, no problem, and got a wakeup call.
October, Lake St. Clair, newbie solo paddle - ouch !

A simple internet search would yield BOATLOADS of info
for classes, instruction, groups, etc. but you
simply didn't make the effort.

Others have done the homework you should have done.
Obviously you have internet access but were TOO lazy.

No pity party for you...You got owned by Lake St. Clair

Hey, willi_h20:
Be nice. They are looking for help, not ATTITUDE !!

Thanks 4 your post
Celia thanks for the info, I have browsed the Riverside Kayak Connection in Wyandotte MI website and have looked at there rates for lessons $75-80 per. I guess being as new as i am i was hoping there were clubs around that i could pay dues and use a “club pool”. That would be a little cheaper of a route. And before anyone flames me on that comment, yeah i know safety is priceless.

I ended up buying my boat from The Kayak Store in Algonac, really cool people they let me demo 2 other boats before i picked the tsunami 140. They also filled me in on safety equipment, I just had no money left after the purchase of the kayak paddle and PFD. I will most likely stop on by today and talk to them and what they offer as far as lessons.

Thanks the the link (nrsweb.com), so your saying i should be looking for a dry-suit? Would i use something like that in the summer or just fall/winter/spring?

in addition to formal clubs

– Last Updated: Oct-31-12 2:01 PM EST –

check out www.meetup.com and see if there are paddling groups nearby. Sometimes just chatting with or joining beginner outings (asking first what gear or skills are needed) can give you the lay of the land on classes, gear and local safety issues. Some of these groups/clubs may join forces to get better rates on classes.

Especially if on a budget you may just have to wait for warm weather to come back for more beginner appropriate outings and classes.

btw, I think that lessons are better if you have the opportunity to go out with others soon after the lessons to practice what you learned. Otherwise you may need to retake the lessons months later if the cold keeps you in. So another reason you may want to wait out the winter.

Drysuit vs Wetsuit

– Last Updated: Oct-31-12 1:59 PM EST –

A wetsuit will work for kayak paddling, and many people here wear wet suits in very low temperatures in the winter. You can get a wetsuit that will be adequate protection until the water freezes for about $160 bucks.
You can search here for lots of threads on wetsuits that work for cold water paddling. Full surfing wetsuits with flexible arms actually work best. Good brands to look for on sale are Oneil, Xcell,

Drysuits are very nice, but not the only solution for paddling. Not realistic for those without large bank accounts. Posters on this board with lots of experience in cold water wetsuts are "Sing" and "Wikle" . Keith Wikle is a very experienced great lake paddler and good person to know about training in the great lakes region.

Thanks willowlea
Yeah your right willowlea i did dodged a bullet on that one, my legs were numb by the time i made it to shore. It was last Wednesday when it happened, the air temps were about 75 deg. in my area and i don’t know what the water temp was maybe 45-55. I just wanted to get out there before i called it quits for the fall/winter (due to my lack of cold weather gear). I did end up reading that newspaper clipping, I am coming to grips on the dangers of cold water.

I am trying to educate my self on the best clothing to have for paddling. And will try to check out that REI store in troy and meetup.com

Thanks again for your post.

Water Temp help

– Last Updated: Oct-31-12 2:17 PM EST –

It is Michigan after all and residents should know
the basics of water temperatures before heading out:

There is no substitute for time in the kayak in varying conditions and gradually working up to bumpier stuff. Watch all the videos you want and read as much as you can about techniques and such, but in the end, it takes time and experience.

Don’t be surprised if you get a hankering for a sea kayak rather quickly. Meanwhile, get the best pfd you can afford. Wetsuits aren’t very expensive and will work just fine until you think you have to have a dry suit. You will also want a proper quality paddle and you’re all set.

Thanks willi_h2o
Thanks for the helpful post willi_h2o I was looking on other sites with buoy water temp information and the site you gave me seems more strait forward.

Good call
Thanks nickjc added the book to my wish list. Found it used for $5 mite just pick it up now…

two Yahoo groups w. pool sessions

– Last Updated: Oct-31-12 4:47 PM EST –

EMU paddlers (Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti) 2nd pool session Nov 4 3-5 pm Jones Pool. $10 for this session running now thru mid April. Open to students and nonstudents. Sign up ahead of time so you get directions, how to load boats in, & ground rules for pool sessions. At their first session, everyone must demonstrate a wet exit w. skirt on, and that they can swim width (not length) of the Olympic sized pool. Per their wording "We will teach you how to wet exit but not teach you how to swim."

GLKayakers will be scheduling pool sessions soon in the Marysville/New Baltimore area. Fees vary per session depending on number of users usually $15-$25/session. sign up now for mailing list.

Here is a third group that offers lessons in the pool and next summer in fresh water. They are MUCH closer to you - about two hours less drive time - than Riverside Kayak Connection which is in Wyandotte - altho in past RKC has done pool sessions in Southfield which is doable.

Black Parrot Paddlers partners w. Expanding Horizons LLC for winter pool sessions in Brighton, Fenton and South Lyon approx 2x per month Nov-April. Fees vary depending on number of users for pool sessions. They will also offer lessons for around $80-$90 w. your equipment. Sign up now for mailing list. Here is website for Expanding Horizons: http://www.expandinghorizonskayaking.com/

black parrot paddling
Here’s a great area instructor:


You can also check with Riverside Kayak, posted in the first response above.

what an ambassador of the sport!

– Last Updated: Oct-31-12 4:12 PM EST –

Willi - you had better pray you never make a mistake. Because then you'll have to direct your contempt back toward yourself.

cool thanks
Great just joined the GLKayakers yahoo group. thanks