Isle Royale!


I have a 16’ 10" yak. Would this be an appropriate vessel for a trip to Isle Royale?

I paddle several times per week on a local resevior here in IN. I am not “Mr. Experience” but I have a few hours under my belt in rough water.

If you are planning on taking the ferry to the island and paddling around the shoreline it should be fine. Lot of people do it. There are a lot of coves to get out of what can be a dangerous lake. Hopefully, you will be part of a group. If you are talking about paddling from the mainland to the island then I would say no. Lake Superior is very big water and gets some nasty storms. Personally, unless I were very accomplished and had a support boat I would not paddle to the island.

Isle Royale
You said you are form Indiana, have you paddled the lake at all when it is kicking up?

Your size kayak would be fine for Isle Rooyale. I am going up the week after labor day for a week.

Lake Superior stays cold during the summer. Some of the protected bays will warm up some, but I wouldn’t paddle w/o at least a wet suit.

Are you planning on going alone? It is a good idea to have a VHF, the park service monitors this, and you could get in touch with other boaters.

I met a 2 guys a few years ago in a composite tandem who had paddled over from The Pigeon River, and they used a kite for added propulsion. If you are not an experienced paddler I would leave that one alone for a while.

We are going to Rock Harbor and will decide where we will go depending on the weather.

Good Luck.

trip reports
Lake Superior is serious business. Read trip reports and whatever else you can get your hands on to make sure you have a good idea what you might be in for. Practice self-rescue, and better yet, rolling. I hope to paddle the shores of the Isle someday myself, but I hope I take care in advance to prepare myself well.

Thank You
Sounds like I need another year of paddling before I think about this trip.

I did over 20 miles in the past 3 days on a local reservoir ( Thirteen miles yesterday and 4 Today (2 sep. “trips” today). Believe it or not I think today was more difficult than “red flag” conditions that I experienced on Lake Michigan 1 week ago. The reason: at least on LM a pattern existed with the waves. When a multitude of powerboats are stirring up the water there is no way of knowing what will come next. Three foot waves are not uncommon at all on Morse on a busy weekend. Worse (again) is the “criss-crossing” unpredictable wake. There was never a point where I thought I was going to turn over the boat however it took a lot of energy to keep the boat on course. So I think this is good training for a possible trip to Isle Royale!

Thanks again for the input.

Kayak handliing
If you haven’t paddled with your kayak loaded with the gear you will take, try that as your yak will have a different feel and the response will be slower to turn etc.

You are definitley right about the Lake being easier to paddle, the waves/swells are more consistent and farther apart.

Where do you paddle on the lake? I usually paddle north of Chicago.

Kayaking Isle Royale
I have been paddling for several years now and teach rescue classes and am still cautious about paddling around parts of Isle Royale. Better to be cautious I think. To get an idea of what paddling Lake Superior is like (and NEVER go without a wetsuit even on 90 degree days…that water temperature is so cold you have 5 minutes or less to get back in your boat before hypothermia can set in), you might try the Apostle Islands. The water temp is warmer there and it’s somewhat protected, but can give you an idea of the waves it can produce. I’d start with an Apostle Island trip to Sand Island (2 mile crossing) and then maybe paddle around that island to see the difference in wave action from one side of the island to the other, water temp, and winds.

And like others said, don’t even attempt the Apostles or anywhere else on Lake Superior without at least first practicing solo and assisted rescues with the group you are paddling with. If I were you, I’d take a few sea kayaking classes in rescue, safety, etc…from Lake Superior outfitters first. A good place to practice is in the harbor at Duluth–water is cold but not as cold as out on the lake…or the Apostles which tend to have warmer water temps between islands.

But do go eventually! You will love it!

Good luck!

Isle Royale
I did a solo trip around the north end of Isle Royale back in 1984. I had a Sawyer Loon designed by Vern Kruger. It was a great trip. I would recommend you going with someone else unless you have a lot of experience. Lake Superior is very cold and the weather can be unpredictable. Decision making is important. Never take unnecessary risks. E-mail back if you want more detailed information about paddling Isle Royale.

Blake Point
How was it paddling around Blake Point? Did you run into bad weather?

Isle Royale
When I went around Blake Point there was only a little chop. Overall the weather and waves were kind to me. Big swells going down from Rock Harbor, they were fun. I wanted to go out to Amygdaloid island but going solo was too risky.