Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Saugatuck, Michigan

This Summer, my partner and I made our way to the Midwest to visit family in Chicago and Minneapolis, and while we were there we made a little side trip to the resort town of Saugatuck, Michigan. Saugatuck is located on the Kalamazoo River where it meets Lake Michigan, and recreational kayaks are available for rent. We took one out for four hours and had a great tour. We first headed upriver, under the Blue Star Highway bridge toward Douglas, then under the Highway 196 Bridge into Silver Lake. The Kalamazoo River wends its way off to the Southeast, but we only had so much time, so we headed back toward Saugatuck to get as close as possible to the mouth of the river where it spills into Lake Michigan. The rental company doesn't allow the rec kayaks to be taken out on the lake, and that is understandable.

The boat we were in had only an aft bulkhead, and no sprayskirts. The cockpit was one big opening for both paddlers, and would have taken on water wonderfully. The life vests were cheap, and the symetrical paddles were the cheapest I've ever seen without drip guards, yet they still sufficed in propelling the kayak. The tandem kayak had no rudder, and didn't track very well. I found it was easiest to control when both paddlers were aware of a bearing and aimed for it. When my attention lapsed for even a few seconds I found we drifted off course rather quickly. When renting, you may not have a lot of options for good equipment, and I've seriously begun to consider purchasing a good folding kayak for travel. This trip was not primarily about kayaking, so it was good to get out on the water even if the equipment was very basic.

We saw many fish jumping out of the water, lots of ducks and ducklings, water lillies in the still waters of Silver Lake, and many turtles.