Last weekend I had a chance to add a new island to the kayaking repertoire. Doug, Callum and I had been to South Manitou a few years back. This time, Todd and Linda were making a quick trip to the North island.
The trip was fist planned a week earlier, but weather wasn’t cooperating. On the second attempt, the weather appeared to be holding, so we headed up to the area on Friday night. Crashed at the farm in Empire, mainly to avoid having to pack up, paddle in the dark then pitch a camp somewhere along the point.
Saturday morning we got up kind of early to head out to the island. Stopped at DH Day, filed a float plan, got car passes and a back country permit. Stopped in Glen Arbor for breakfast and were unpacking at the beach when I had the brilliant idea to lock my keys in the car. Since there were no objections, I went ahead with the plan. That ended up causing about an hour delay in getting on the water.
Conveniently, I’m still within the three year / 36k mile window on the Subaru, so with that I get free roadside assistance. I called Subaru, Subaru found a tow service who they then contracted to come let me back into my car.
Morning drama aside, we got on the water in what was a beautifully clear day with maybe 10kt winds from the West / Northwest. We cruised three miles out to the point before turning to cross the channel. Finding the point is kind of battle between logic and instinct. Instinctively, every outcropping of land we went around seemed like it might be the proper departure from the mainland. Logically, you just have to keep paddling until the lighthouse and the island are squarely to your side. At that point, unless there is obvious land jutting out in front of you, you’re probably starting to turn and move away from the target.
Also, since I failed to mention, there is a lighthouse in the channel. Island & lighthouse – this was a two-for-one trip.
This is what much of the mainland shoreline looked like, with Linda for scale.
The crossing itself is about seven miles with the lighthouse roughly in the middle. For the most part, the waves stayed under 1ft. and the wind wasn’t anything to horrible.
Perspective is a neat thing, but don’t let it fool you – those dunes are huge.
This is the closest clear shot I have of the lighthouse. It’s not really in the best condition, especially noting the poop covered solar panels on the second level.
After the initial landing on the island, we paddled up the West coast a ways. There was a very nice campsite up there (as Todd and Linda has speculated) but because of the winds and waves, the water near it was quite churned up. Too bad, because watching the sunset from a tent on a bluff would have been kinda cool. It would have also added three miles to Sunday’s return trip, so given the options, we headed back to the South end of the island.
It rained overnight and this guy took shelter under my kayak. And then I chased it down for a picture.
We didn’t waste much time in the morning, because the best weather was slated to be early on in the day. It was overcast and raining in places – we got to see South Manitou consumed by rainclouds while on our return trip. The weather held well enough, and we only got sprinkled on briefly.
These clouds looked more concerning than they really were – there was no lightning. I found it neat how you could see how they were sitting on a pocket of lower air.
Back on the mainland – I think this was the tallest and it was definitely the steepest bluff we saw. Obviously some daring people have climbed it.
As we were getting back to the launch site I grabbed this picture of Sugarloaf. Too bad they’re no longer open for skiing.