The picture above is a Seaward kayak similar to one that I just purchased and is on its way from British Columbia. I also have an Arluk III and another Necky Arluk IV kayak. I chose the Seaward Ascente because it is similar to the Arluk, giving good speed, durability, and handling, and is sort of a "Deluxe model", with bungee cord hatch covers, a "wear strip" on the stern, "self rescue "handles" for the paddle,and various other deluxe features. I also have an 18 foot Grumman aluminum canoe that has about 50,000 miles on its odometer, as well as a brand new hole from our recent "Clean Up the River" expedition. It was amazing the amount of junk collected on the LeSueur, Blue Earth, and Minnesota Rivers; one of my friends even found an old automobile transmission! The various junk that I placed in my canoe proved to be incompatible with the aluminum "skin". Imagine that.
The picture above shows a bay of Lake Superior on one of the trips I took with Cascade Kayaks, out of (now) Grand Marais, Minn. In the last few years I have made several trips on this famous lake. I'm toying with the idea of circumnavigating this world's largest freshwater lake in stages. I have traveled most of the length of the Mississippi river on various canoe/kayak trips from its source at Lake Itasca as far as Hannibal Missouri.
I've also traveled extensively in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Quetico National Park in Canada. A few of the more notable trips were a week long trip with all five members of my family packed into the aforementioned 18 foot canoe. Despite several close calls on this trip (including one involving inclement weather and big waves which had my then 6-year old daughter singing the Gloria Patri) there are still 5 people in my family, as well as two more grandchildren!
To explain further about that trip--It was in the summer of 1976. We rented a cabin at Snowbank Lake, near Ely, and left one car there. We then travelled to Seagull Lake, out of Grand Marais, and parked our car, and the 5 of us (Me in the stern, my wife in the front, my 12-year old son in one area, my 9-year old son and (during the trip she had her 6th birthday) daughter in the other area, as well as a large Duluth pack, "Rec-Pak" solid fibreglass foodpack, and various backpacks,enough to outfit our family for a week, including a 4-man Eureka timberline tent. In retrospect, I can't believe it's possible to have travelled in such crowded conditions, but we thought nothing of it. Each night, My wife, 12-year old son, and I slept parallel, and my 9-year old and 6-year old slept lengthwise along the front! Again, amazing, as now, my wife and I feel the 4-man tent is just barely big enough for the two of us! The singing of my daughter occurred when we encountered a sudden storm, and big waves, just at the end of our trip, on Snowbank lake. There was about a 2-3 mile distance from the end of the portage to Wilderness Bay, the resort at which we were staying. At the end of the trip, we referred to her singing as evidence she was scared, but she claimed "I was only practicing for Cherub's choir"!
A trip without my family occurred 20 years later, on Lake Superior in July of 1996, through Cascade Kayaks, formerly of Lutsen, but now, with a new store, out of Grand Marais, Minn. I would highly recommend them; I am taking another trip this summer with them on the NE shore of Lake Superior, through Pukaskwa park. The 1996 trip was from Silver Islet, at the end of Sibley park, just out of Thunder Bay, to Rossport. We travelled through beautiful scenery, and sometimes had to manufacture our own campsites, on the stones (sand beaches were almost nonexistent). At one of the islands, there was an old cabin, maintained only for emergencies. Although we used its porch to prepare dinner, we pitched our tents for sleeping. Over at the side was located a sauna; we fired it up, and triedit, although Lake Superior is ultra cold, and the post-sauna"dip" was brief, and I barely rinsed off! We also observed other areas less developed, and even did some primitive exploring at an unnamed river's mouth.
I became interested in sea kayaks in 1989, on a canoe trip on the Mississippi River. A friend had a Sea Kayak, and I was intrigued. He insisted I try it out, and I found I enjoyed it, and it was as easy, if not easier to paddle, than a canoe. I tried one out at Gunflint Lake that summer, and in 1990 went to a kayak symposium at Bayfield , Wisconsin, and tried out various brands, liked the Necky best, and purchased one. Since then, most of my travelling has been by Sea Kayak, particularly after buying one for my wife in 1991. However, I still like to canoe, and hope to purchase a new canoe soon, as the above Grummann is in sad shape. From what I've observed on the Mississippi river trips, the We-No-Nah Jensen is my preferred model. We rented one on one of our trips, and fell in love with its speed, maneuverability, and lightness(39 pounds in Kevlar).
During the summer of 1995, we went to Vancouver Island, and travelled to Tofino, adjacent to Pacific Rim Natl. Park. Through Tofino Kayak outfitters, we took a several day trip through Clayoquot Sound, observing 800-year old Cypresss trees, numerous flora and fauna, and much wildlife, including dolphins, but as it was August, failed to see any whales. This is an area much in the news in Canada, although not as much in USA, for possible logging or other development. I suggest getting there soon, in case it gets developed.
Another Lake Superior trip occurred in 1994, with one of the same friends with whom I later toured Clayoquot sound. We started out across from Sand Island, on the caves on the mainland. The day was beautiful, and we even did some "rescue" maneuvers in the shallow water. In the morning, the water was relatively calm--no more than 1-2 feet "chop", not even what you'd call waves. As we crossed over to Sand Island, we were, unknowingly, in its lee, and although the wind was increasing, we didn't notice its enormity until we turned the corner, and were quartering into 7-8 foot waves! It was both exciting and terrifying--my companion was maybe 20 feet away, but when he went into a trough, I could no longer see him, and, particularly at first, didn't know if he had capsized or was still paddling. We eventually made it to Sand Island, although the landing, in the surf, was an adventure; I have since learned you must immediately exit and start pulling up your boat before the next wave, but I didn't know it at that time, and the next wave swamped my boat. Fortunately, everything was in waterproof drysacks, so nothing was hurt but my pride. The storm continued, and we ended up being stranded on the island for 3 days. There was a volunteer ranger on the island, and he had a radio so we could call home and tell people that we would be late. I learned that Lake Superior can change quickly.