Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium – Grand Marais, Michigan

I am on my way home from an exciting six weeks of travel that ended in Michigan at the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium. It was my first time at this event, and I was there to instruct and give the Saturday evening presentation.

I flew from Denmark to Michigan on Monday, and spent Tuesday catching up on time zones and watching movies on my computer from the comfort of a hotel room. On Wednesday morning I rode with event organizer, Bill Thompson of Down Wind Sports to the event, located in Grand Marias. I then had the day to explore the quaint town and went on a walk along a beach to two lighthouses. I marveled at the surf break, reminding myself that despite appearance, this wasn’t an ocean, it was Lake Superior.



A beach on Lake Superior

On Thursday I was a guide for the Grand Island West Side Trip, a 20 mile trip along stunning cliffs. The lake was calm and clear, and the sun was bright. The group stopped often to play in rocks, go through archways, play under waterfalls and marvel at the incredible scenery. We stopped for lunch at the north end of the island, then made our way back along the same route, smiling and ready for the weekend.

An archway.

And another.

This rock has a face.

A waterfall.

On Friday I instructed Boat Control in Wind and Waves with Steve Scherrer and several other instructors. I spent the afternoon hanging out and teaching rolling with some other instructors in the designated rolling area, and on Saturday I conducted two rolling classes.

A glance at a whiteboard told me that someone had entered me into the GLSKS Race. After finding out that my total water time for this particular race would likely be under five minutes I decided to leave my name on the list. What I wasn’t told was that participants were expected to run to their kayaks (many of which had been filled with water and had their footpegs moved), then zigzag through a series of buoys going in so many directions that the race easily turned into a “contact race.” I paddled through something that was being referred to as the “Tunnel of Death” (a lovely area where buckets of cold water were tossed at race participants… by this time I’m thinking that I should’ve dressed for immersion instead of left my cotton t-shirt on, or at least taken the extra few seconds to attach the sprayskirt after hopping in the kayak) and then an area where a couple of swimmers were drifting around grabbing kayaks and shaking them. Then of course, there was Ben Lawry, who picked a few lucky participants to knock over, thereby getting himself disqualified (thanks Ben for picking me as one of your victims 😉

The official race vest, which the winners will keep until next year.

The event was a huge success, with a unique charm and fun (yes, that’s the right word) all of its own. And now I am on a plane, waiting patiently for the drink cart and looking forward to a few relaxing days at home with my partner before we drive up the coast to Washington and Canada for a little more time on the water.

Ben and Suzanne in the market for a new car.



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