Kayak advice

I am headed to the up in Michigan this summer and would like to do some multi-day camping trips at Pictured Rocks and Apostle Islands. There is a WS Tarpon 100 for sale near me, and I was wondering if it would be crazy to use this yak for that purpose. Should I just spring for a new 120, and would that be enough boat? Any advice would be appreciated.

do you backpack?
I don’t know the conditions of the areas you mentioned well enough to know if a recreational boat would be appropriate. Nor do I know your skills.

But I do know those are small boats for gear carrying. If you are used to backpacking, then you might be fine. But if you want some of the larger comforts in life, even the 12 might be too small. I’ve done overnights out of 14 foot boats, and that is tough. Multi-day and I want my 17 foot boat.

Day outings
I assume you mean base camping with day trips in the kayak. The open water crossings at the Apostles and the long stretches without camping/landing beaches at PR would not be user-friendly to a beamy ten-footer.

I can think of a couple places at the Apostles, east and west of Bayfield, where you could view rock formations, sea caves and shipwrecks near shore. Weather comes up quickly there and you would have to exercise caution to stay clear of the rocks. People do make crossings to the islands in recreational boats, but I wouldn’t be eager to do that.

At Pictured Rocks, it’s a fairly long haul in a short boat for the round trip along shore, but you could do a shuttle from beach-to-beach. Again, get a good fix on the weather before attempting it.

The water is always cold, so be prepared for that. Have your rescue skills tuned up and research the routes well (or paddle with a guide). Those locations merit precautions.

There are sections of the Pictured Rocks shore where there are no safe places to land, and you are exposed to the full fetch of Lake Superior. The weather can change rapidly. The water is cold even in midsummer.

I would try out your gear with a trip on a more forgiving shore before taking it to Pictured Rocks. It’s not a good place to discover problems.

Lake Michigan is an inland sea…

– Last Updated: Apr-24-12 1:31 PM EST –

....but a sea nonetheless. Having started kayak touring in the big lake my personal opinion is that a short fat sit on top like that is a poor choice for a chilly large body of water with conditions that can change to serious heavy waves and wind in a heartbeat. Lake Michigan has already claimed the lives of two of my family members with its quick mood changes. Sure there are summer days when Michigan looks as calm and blue as the Caribbean. It was just such a day that turned nasty and drowned my cousins. Paddling in big water along sea cliffs can be very hazardous. You don't indicate any paddling experience -- you should definitely get some instruction in capsize recovery and basic safety before venturing out in ANY kayak on this lake.

Why don't you look into renting a proper sit inside touring kayak for the trip? There are numerous outfitters along the Michigan west coast. Most offer intro paddling sessions as well.

IMHO, negotiating a 10' or 12' Tarpon up in those waters would range from wet, chilly, strenuous and uncomfortable to desperate, even downright suicidal.

If you have any doubts about the potential power of the Big Lake, check out this collection of storm shots (at least half were shot at sites along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan).