Just Joined!

-- Last Updated: Feb-26-13 4:54 PM EST --

Our local shop recommended the site, Riverside Kayak Connection in Wyandotte MI so I just registered.

After almost 2 months of research and sitting in many different kinds of boats from big box stores to RKC we ordered 2 Perception Expression 14.5's. We are very excited to get into the sport and for myself to loose a bit of this extra "natual padding" I have.

I was shocked to find out how popular the sport is in my area. I grew up on the lakes and Lake Erie and just never knew kayaking was so big here. We both seemed to like the Expression series the most and the 14.5 actually fit in my 14 foot enclosed trailer. We plan on being on open water all around Lake Erie and the dozens of rivers and bays around here.

Excited but the issue is this is going to make the winter last much longer than it should...

If anyone is in the South Eastern Michigan area it would be nice to meet some other people into the sport.

First comment…

– Last Updated: Feb-26-13 4:35 PM EST –

Congratulations! Check your bank account at the door for a while...

Your profile says lakes/flat water and your post talks about paddling on Lake Erie. The Great Lakes are not what people mean by flat water - they are inland seas and are best approached with bigger water, sea kayaking skills.

I just checked and it appears the folks at Riverside Kayak can get you started well. If you haven't already, put some time with them on your calendar.

Since there are two of you, I would strongly suggest that you get some work on rescues as soon as the temperatures and your tolerance work out. It is sooo much easier with two people - take advantage of that.

Yep! The more I’ve learned about the sport the importance of rescues and equipment became apparent. We fully plan on using the local beaches to practice rescues and recoveries. I’ve been watching you tube videos like crazy as well.

We will start on the canals and beaches with full intent to moving into open water on the Detroit River and the southern end as it dumps into Lake Erie.

Thank you for the tips and please any other suggestions are always welcome.

Watch the Water Temps!!! Use the PFD!!!

– Last Updated: Feb-26-13 5:59 PM EST –

In early spring, immersion can be deadly within minutes - even in summer, you'll probably need some level of thermal protection on any big body of water. PFDs save lives - if they're worn...

A good basic sea kayak course is strongly recommended - drastically shortens the learning curve, and can add a lot of enjoyment to your early paddling experiences. Have fun, be safe, and welcome to the Dark Side of the paddling world...

BIG BIG water and small boats

– Last Updated: Feb-26-13 8:19 PM EST –

Don't kid yourself about the southern tip
of the Detroit River as you go past Celeron Island.

RKC has great knowledgeable people and often
launches from the Portofino's restaurant area.
Paddling in groups will expose you to lots of info.

The current dumping into the lake along with wind direction
can make "southern" locations pretty rough.
Those Short Kayaks will get tossed like bobbers,
instead of slicing thru wave trains.

It's ocean paddling, not Cass Lake, Orchard Lake.

Can be a ton of fun, and can be pretty darn tough
in a small human powered vessel on Big water.

Enjoy a taste of summer :

Paterson Park area
(first 3 minutes everyone is just milling about)

Gibralter area

Scroll Down to see the WaterTrail Maps:

I am in south central Michigan. Paddling the Great Lakes is both wonderful and dangerous. Lake Erie is no exception. You seem to be doing all the right things so far. But I just want to emphasize that on any of the Great Lakes conditions can change without much warning from calm to very difficult. I strongly recommend that when on Lake Erie you paddle with at least one other person who is skilled and experienced. Several others is even better. Good luck and be safe.


– Last Updated: Feb-27-13 7:45 AM EST –

Thanks for the warning guys, I never planed on being far out in open water but at times cutting across to gain access to the islands will be when we are farthest from shore.

I am slightly fimillar with the currents in the area but I'm sure its a different world on a kayak compared to a powered boat. I totally plan on taking it easy when it comes to the lakes, practicing on a beach or canals and taking our time.

We are not in any hurry to push our skill levels right from the start. We are both very exicted to just learn a new skill together. I think this will push us to do some more camping as well.

RKC has local tours and skill building events as well. I've been bringing our jump into the sport at work and discovered other people who do this already that we can learn from.

More skills equal more fun
Seriously - those islands you want to go to? The crossings to them that look so accessible from the shore are the kinds of places that newbies very often get into trouble. But it is much less trouble if you have solid paddling skills to handle surprise conditions, and practiced rescue skills to handle it if the first set fails.

Go out and enjoy yourself - which means taking some time to learn stuff so that you aren’t explaining to friends why you were in a local newspaper story. You just have to be willing to get wet, which is about clothing and being willing to spend a bit more money since you are not in Florida.

Islands - Be Wary of the Rules

– Last Updated: Feb-27-13 5:45 PM EST –

Check with RKC staff on 2013 international water rules
- everything getting weird with border issues and
more attention being given to "water crossings"
among the islands in Detroit River


If you’re interested in hooking up with

– Last Updated: Feb-27-13 11:24 PM EST –

a paddling club, check out eastcoastpaddlers@gmail.com. They're from the east side of our great state (Michigan).
They're a great bunch of people that paddle rivers and big water. They also have training in pools in the winter.
If you should find this group isn't what you're looking for, perhaps they can give you names of other paddling clubs.
Welcome aboard a great website, where information and experience is willing shared buy many knowledgeable folks.

Take a look at this article
if you haven’t already seen it. Very good article, on this site, talking about things that newer paddlers often find confounding.

FYI, we have the Back-Up device. This is probably the first reasonable discussion I have seen of it.


I’m not too worried about international crossing as we have no plans to hit any of the islands on the other side of the border right now. This year will be our first year and there is more than enough of other locations to start and build our skills up. Thanks everyone for all of the warnings but I’m not going to hit these islands for a long while, if ever.

We will be most likely starting out in canals and such around Gibralatar including Sterling State park launching off of the beach to practice recoveries and basic control. There is an almost endless amount of inland bays and lakes in the area that it would take years to explore. I think this will keep us busy until we feel like hitting real open water.

As much as you guys are brining up recoveries I’m very interested in seeing for myself exactly how hard it is to drag oneself back into a boat. It must be harder than expected? I’ve read that a high back seat gets in the way as well.

My yak is an Perception Expression 14.5.

I actually grew up swimming in the Detroit river off of Celeron Island, the rockwall, Sugar island, Crystal Lake, White Sands, Boblo etc. I’ve heard that crossing over is more strict these days.

Thanks for the links and information, I’m reading it all now!


You might also…
…consider attending the Port Austin Sea Kayak Symposium this June. It’s a Riverside Kayak event and should be a nice short drive for you.

If you haven’t been to Port Austin, it’s a scenic little town and there will be all kinds of instructional stuff for building up your skills. Just plan on getting wet:)

Re-entering the kayak
The biggest problem that people have with this, especially guys because of weight distribution, is balance. The swimmer gets close to actually putting their butt back into the cockpit and they capsize again doing that because they go off balance. It is not uncommon for new paddlers to go thru more than one session to get this down, because there are only so many times you can recapsize before you are too wet and cold and tired to try again.

You typically enter from over the back deck. Anything that keeps you higher from the water makes it harder to manage the balance and much easier to recapsize. That includes a higher rear deck (you’ll see the Brit style boats usually have very low rear decks), seat backs that you have to climb over (hence the preference among many for back bands), crap stored on the deck, really scary looking rudders that cause you to raise yourself up to avoid getting cut… lots of stuff.

One exercise that works very, very well and is hard to convince people to do helps with the balance problem. Take the boat to shallow water, so each new capsize is not a tiring swim, and practice crawling around on the deck. Slide forward to the bow, turn around, slide to the rear, do the same thing. Sit on the boat behind or ahead of the cockpit and turn around to face the opposite way - still sitting on the deck.

It takes very little time to find out that assisted rescues are a lot easier, but even there some practice is needed to make it reliable. It only takes a moment of inattention for the rescuer to loose their grip on the swimmer’s boat, or not stabilize it right and have to start all over again, or lose their own paddle.

This stuff is not hard. It DOES require practice and a willingness to get wet. Unfortunately too few people are willing to put in that time.

I want to work for it.
Celia, I guess I’m a bit different because I’m excited to put the time in and practice this stuff, we both are. I intended on using shalow water to learn but I like the idea of basically learning the limits of what you can get away with crawling around on the boat. I think its initially letting your control muscles learn to balance the boat without thinking about it, like riding a bike. Then, exploring the limits of what will tip it over. Then the same on climbing back in. I expect to dump the boat very often from the start.

Really, for me, the work and energy that I’ll have to do to gain this skill will burn some of this extra fat off of me, so I’m all for it! Currently 5’8 and 220lbs.

I want to go get one of the boats right now and put it in my garage so I can play with it now! All good information guys, thank you.

Sounds good
Also - yes a smaller person can rescue a surprisingly large one with the right technique. My rescue practice partner for demonstrations has often been a guy who is about a foot taller and weighs a whole lot more than me. We have paired up for demo’s at times just to show that this can work.