Kayaking Technique Forum

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Re: Lake Paddling Conditions
In Response To: Re: Lake Paddling Conditions ()

Fresh water chop is not fun. It is very hard to paddle in, it is also very hard to sail in if your boat is not over 30ft. Lake Michigan has a weather buoy system, as do the other great lakes. It is internet accessiable. It will give you a great deal of information on the type of waves that are out on the Lake. It also give a wave pattern history for a number of hours. I look at this information and to be honest try to avoid going out in kayaks on days when the lake's wave pattern is very unstable.

Sometimes, you get caught out in the chop and cann't do much about it. This is when I have found sponsons to be very useful. But you have to put them on before the chop gets very bad or you simply will not be able to stop bracing long enough to be able to do it. They greatly reduce the amount of bracing that is required. Since in a good chop you are not going to be going very fast the sponsons really do not make much difference in terms of slowing you down. I think the most important thing is to stay calm if a big cross wind comes up and you are out several miles. If you try to race in you putting yourself more at risk than it is worth.

The more time you spend on large lakes like Michigan the more you understand the wave changes that take place with wind changes. You become aware of how long it takes for patterns to change as direction and force changes. The old saying goes the man who does not fear the lake will surely drown one day. Those that fear it will drown only now and again.


Looking out my office window at 10ft breakers on Lake Michigan