Invitation to Kayak Across Lake Michigan

On September 15th of this year a small group of kayakers will be kayaking across Lake Michigan, starting in Wisconsin and ending in Holland, MI. We are kayaking to benefit Pathways, MI, which is a recent merger of two long time non-profits: Child and Family Services of West Michigan and Children’s Resource Network. They are experiencing serious financial hardships now that state funding is being cut everywhere at the same time the need for their services is rising. Check Pathways out online at So anyway, we are paddling in the name of Pathways, trying to pull this thing off in a short amount of time. Right now, we have six people making the crossing; only 2 of them are paddling the entire distance of 80 miles. Because we have less than 2 months to prepare, we decided to develop “teams” of up to 4 people to share the distance, doing as little as 20 miles each. Chase boats will accompany us and allow team members to rest in between turns. OUR #1 GOAL IS TO RAISE MONEY FOR PATHWAYS, regardless of how far everyone paddles. ALL DONATIONS ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE WITH A RECEIPT FROM PATHWAYS!

As a long time member, I’d like to invite you to support Paddle for Pathways! Here’s how you can help:

-Paddle with us or spread the word that we are looking for proficient paddlers. Remember you can do as little as 20 miles, and we can match you up with teammates!

-Lend/donate boats and or/gear, we promise to display banners or other promotional items for you depending on your contribution.

-Inform us of any sources of support for gear sponsors or contributions

-Make a tax-deductible donation!! Email me for a donation form!

-Ask your employer to match your donation!

-Pray for good weather and safety

-Check out Pathways online at

Please email me, or post within this forum if you’d be willing to help with any part of this event. Thank you for your part in making Paddle for Pathways a HUGE success!

Some Comments …
Hi I’m not sure how much you paddle on open water, but I am a little bit surprised that you are going to try and schedule an 80 mile crossing event in the Fall across a pretty big lake. I used to live in Michigan and Wisconsin, and mid-September used to mean fairly good risk of early fall storms with strong winds and hard rain. On the west coast we have pretty mild weather most of the time, even though that is true events like crossings to Catalina or surf expression sessions are very much at the Mercy of weather. You might want to plan alternative dates and have a go/no go decision two days in advance. Not sure that would work with your logistics, but mother Nature does not care about the plans of mice and men. My little bit of experience from long coastal trips or very long crossings is that Mother Nature decides when it will happen.

Thank You Seadart
We won’t go out unless the conditions are safe. We will have constant watch over the weather from our chase boats and the Coast Guard.

I have sailed across L. Michigan
several times as well as sailing around the coast. My experience has been that weather forecasting is very inaccurate. Storms come up when none are expected, predictions for wind direction are 180 degrees wrong, and predictions for wind velocity often not even close. One trip in particular I remember starting in Wisconsin and heading toward Michigan over night. Weather forecasts were for calm and clear conditions. But in the middle of the lake a large thunderstorm came up with no warning and we were caught in the midst of high wind, big waves, and lightning striking all around us. Our 30 foot sailboat was ok once we got the sails reefed. A kayak would not have made it. I am sure you intend to be as safe as possible but even with chase boats and the Coast Guard what you propose is a very dangerous enterprise. I wish you well but I would not do it.

I expected these types of responses. We are crossing with large boats that regularly make this trip. We will hop aboard if waves/wind because a problem.

some good advice here
People are being kind to warn you of the dangers of the length and timing of this crossing.

Also, there have been other fundraiser events for this crossing, kayaks for a cure being one of them:

Like yours, a great cause. You may want to contact these people and get some input if you haven’t already.

I think what you’re doing is a great gesture, and if you’re careful, use good judgement, and utilize others in the area and/or in the water at the time, can be a successful venture. I’d love to participate but I’ll be just returning from a trip and running another event the following day.

Good luck!

Yes, we have been in contact with Kayak for a Cure. They experience some crazy weather during their summer crossing. Very good advice. Thank you.

Have a great trip
As a fellow Great Lake Stater, I know that you are fully aware of the implications of paddling on Lake Michigan. As such, it is clear that you are fully prepared for the contigencies of bad weather. I would therefore respectfully disagree with the above responses suggesting recklessness on your part. We Midwestern paddlers can handle our big lakes just fine, thank you.

I think you will have a grand time, and I would be very interested in supporting your effort or perhaps even participating. Please keep me posted.

Rock on, paddlers,


Hum a few bars for me, I know this one

“I would therefore respectfully disagree with the above responses suggesting recklessness on your part. We Midwestern paddlers can handle our big lakes just fine, thank you”

You mean like the Childrens Cancer Foundation 18 mile crossing from Pelee Island to Kingsville Ontario on Lake Erie in August of '96? (or was it '97?)

If you haven’t heard about it , the salient points are Coast Guard Cutter and CNN footage.

Seriously, though, good luck with it. My compliments to whomever is paddling sweep.


Yeah right.
“They say they nearly died”

so what
The same situation could have arisen on an afternoon coastal paddle, the distance had absolutely nothing to do with that incident.

And you neglected to mention they raised 25k toward cancer research.

Life is a series of calculated risks…
I “almost died” this morning when some idiot swerved into my lane without signalling. I “almost died” last year when I failed to get a flu shot before volunteering at the nursing home.

I think that this trip is well planned with all realistic contingencies more than covered. Yes, a waterspout, meteor, or rogue lightning bolt might jump up and attack us without warning, but then we might as well stay inside and cower in front of CNN for the rest of our days.

For me, I like to consider the much more probable outcome, which is the successful completion and significant fundraising provided by this expedition.

Peace, dudes.

I think it appears that the organizers are planning for every possibility. Let’s hope they continue to do so. Great cause which I admire more than someone who paddles a huge crossing “because it is there”.

More than personal risk!
“I “almost died” last year when I failed to get a flu shot before volunteering at the nursing home.”

The unfortunate part of this one is that you risked others’ lives by going into a nursing home and dealing with people less able than you to handle the flu… whether you caught it there or not!

Take one of the designated chase boats out a day that is too rough to paddle in ( the same conditions that would cause abortion of the trip) and in those rough conditions practice getting paddler and kayak into the chase boat, then the next paddler and kayak and then so on. Thats “being prepared”.

Thats the trick, the chase boats need to be big enough to handle conditions and a load of kayaks and paddlers, yet small enough to make loading easier than the 45 minutes it took the Coasties to load four boats and 7 paddlers in Lake Erie in '96, while the two hypothermic (with 20 years of experience) paddlers were vomiting in the hull of the Cutter, while a helicopter was on its way to meet them to fly them to the hospital for hypothermia treatment.

And there is a big difference dealing with weather adversity out in the middle of Lake Michigan than dealing with it 10 minutes from shore.

Just facts and observations, no ill will or rain.

Like the original poster said, he knew he couldn’t post and invite to strangers and paddlers of unknown skill and temperament to cross a great lake without having fellow Pnetheads wave the big caution flag.

Good luck.

how do you “calculate”
a great lake that creates its own weather 40 miles from land? 20 miles on a good day is still almost 6 hrs paddling for most sea kayakers. The unkown variable of the equation is supposed to be a very small part of the equation, not a huge roll of the dice.

The only way to truely prepare is to practice the proverbial “yard sale” (people, kayaks, and gear all spread out across the surface of the water) in conditions and see what it takes to get it cleaned up. Of course we all know that weather x cold water x distance x fatique x fear multiplies out exponentially.

Don’t mean to sound crass, but so many times on these type of events, the experienced paddlers spend all their time organizing everything but the actual paddling/rescue details, and the less experienced paddlers think that the experienced paddlers would not have invited them along if it wasn’t safe and they weren’t going to be taken care of.

Hope you have a great time, and success.

I have the safety details covered…
I’m more concerned about raising money for Pathways (formerly Children’s Resource Network and Child and Family Services).

Anyone have any leads on where I can find some money for this cause? I have donation forms I can email around as well. Thanks for your support!

Could have atleast pretended to
sound interested in my concerns before you turned it back to a solicitation. :^{

Try Teva, Kavu, Patagonia, Johnson/Necky/OldTown, Confluence (or whoever they are a the moment) Kokatat, Werner, The Discovery Channel, Verizon, Nextel, REI, Toys R’Us, Subaru, , you know, who ever makes a buck off paddlers and/or kids!

Advanced Elements, Inc.

• Aquafusion Kayaks

• Bic Sport North America

• Chesapeake Light Craft, LLC

• Cobra Kayaks / Glenwa, Inc.

• Easy Rider Canoe and Kayak Co.

• Emotion Kayaks, Inc.

• Englehart Products, Inc.

• Enlightened Kayaks

• Evergreen Canoe Co.

• Feathercraft Products

• Feelfree Kayak, USA

• Folbot, Inc.

• Foldlite Watercraft

• Futura Surf Skis

• Grabner GMBH

• Hobie Kayaks

• Hurricane Kayaks

• Impex Formula Series

• Impex Kayaks

• Innova Recreational Products

• Kayak Trek Kayaks- New!

• KayakPro

• Klepper USA

• Lincoln Canoes and Kayaks

• Loki High Performance Kayaks

• NC Kayaks

• Nigel Foster Kayaks- New!


• NuCanoe, Inc.

• P&H Sea Kayaks

• Pakboats/ScanSport, Inc.

• Pelican International

• Perception, Inc.

• Prijon Kayaks - Wildwasser Sport USA Inc.

• Pygmy Boats Inc.

• QCC Kayaks

• RTM Kayaks and Canoes

• Sea Eagle

• Sea Knife Kayaks Inc.

• Seaward Kayaks Mfg.- New!

• Seda

• Stearns

• Swift Canoe & Kayak

• TRAK Kayaks

• Warren Light Craft

• Wilderness Systems

thanks sternsquirt
I didn’t disregard what you said. Actually practiced some drills in the waves of Lake Michigan the other night right before sunset.

Thanks for the list. I’ll get on it.

Invite Still Open
We are still looking for some skilled paddlers to make the crossing with us. We’re having a meeting tomorrow night at 8 if you’re interested.

If you would like to know how you can be involved email