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Lake Michigan - Intro to Sea Kayaking with Kayak Chicago

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 9:10 pm
by rich
Today, myself and 2 other "Float Your Boat" club members, Ginny and Chad, as well as two other women, took Kayak Chicago's Intro To Sea Kayaking class at Montrose Beach on beautiful Lake Michigan.

Group photo of the sea kayaks we used for the lessons -Prijon Seayaks, Touryaks and Calabrias.

First of all, when you are talking about sea kayaking, "intro" is a somewhat of a misnomer. Despite having read the class description many times, I completely underestimated what this class was about. I thought it was going to be about all the basics; mainly stroke techniques, and some simple rescues. Up to this point I had done all my kayaking in a rec kayak on relatively tame rivers and small lakes and had never really practiced a real rescue. Today it was windy and there were sizable waves crashing onto Lake Michigan's shore.

Float Your Boater Chad adjusting his foot pegs.

After about an hour and half of instruction on land we headed out to the water to try out our new skills. The skills we learned included wet exits, T-rescues and all the basic paddling strokes. With decent size waves crashing onto shore, I think everyone in the class was somewhat nervous. We headed out away from shore where the waves weren't quite as bad -but they were definitely still there. Half the group was in kayaks and the rest walked out into the water to assist. We proceeded with wet exits followed by T-rescues. Occasionally some large waves would slam into us and make us lose our balance. Everyone did a great job and completed the exersises successfully. After I finished this part of the lesson and was heading back to the shore a large wave hit me and knocked me over forcing me to do a wet exit. After all the excercises, being upside down in the water and battling the waves, we were all a little tired

Our instructor, Luiz (fantastic instructor by the way), told us that now we were all going to get into our kayaks and head further out to practice our T-rescues in deeper water in a protected section about 200 yards off the beach. Again, we were all a little nervous about this since we would have to pass through the breaking waves to get to the protected area. In particular, I was a little worried that another wave was going to slam me down before I made it out to the deeper water. Luiz gave us some tips about leaning into the wave and keeping your paddle in the water. It worked, nobody got dumped out of their boats on the way there.

Out in the deeper protected section off the beach we proceeded to practice on our strokes -sweeps for turning, forward stroke and backwards strokes. I thought I already knew how to do these fairly well but Luiz was able to spot all my problems and tell me what I was doing wrong. Despite needing still more work, my stroke drastically improved thanks to Luiz's guidance.

We finished off with more wet-exits and T-rescues. Again, everyone in the group did great and everyone completed the exercises despite being cold and exhausted by this point. After Luiz showed us a few things we could learn in the intermediate class -some braces and a very nice eskimo roll, we headed back into the big waves.

After being in the protected water, the waves brought back a little nervousness. I was focusing on keeping my kayak perpendicular to the waves as best I could although we had to take a slight angle to get back to the section of the beach we had started from. The waves ended up giving us a nice ride. I was able to catch a couple decent waves and surf for what seemed like 20-30 yards. Everyone made it the shore without any problems.

I can easily say that this class was well worth the money we paid for it. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to get into kayaking, particularly sea kayaking.

Jon, Tom and Ed, great guys from Float Your Boat also showed up for some big wave paddling (no lesson however). Ed took some nice pics which are on the Float Your Boat website at the following. Unlike me, he managed to get some pics of us in the water!:

After packing up I decided to drive to the end of Montrose Harbor to check out the beautiful nighttime skyline and lake.


Re: Lake Michigan - Intro to Sea Kayaking with Kayak Chicago

PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 3:09 pm
by Ginny from Float Your Boat

Great description of our lesson! I thought the picture of Chad in the photo gallery with your caption was priceless. And the night time skyline is gorgeous.


ps: thanks for the lift back to my car. It only took me an hour to get back home, very little traffic on Interstate. ;)

Re: Lake Michigan - Intro to Sea Kayaking with Kayak Chicago

PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 7:05 pm
by rich
Your welcome, hope to see you at other events. I figure we still have another 3-4 good months of kayaking before the season is officially over.