Because we wanted to avoid weekend boat traffic, Tony and I had planned to do a kayak trip out to Power Island – a 200-acre bump out in the West Arm of the Grand Traverse Bay – in midweek. But, with temperatures in the low 90’s yesterday and with predicted wind-speeds of no more than 5MPH, we decided to go for it.
Driving up the west side of the Old Mission Peninsula, the Bay looked smooth, but not glassy – so far, so good. And then we passed this guy, guarding Bowers Harbor, whose appearance one can only interpret as auspicious.
Looking like he owns the place…which in birdly terms, he does
We parked at the public boat launch, and prepared to embark. A few other boaters (regular boaters, not kayakers) also launched, joining some of their compatriots and jet-skiers. Overall though, the harbor was relatively calm, and we didn’t feel unsafe making the first open-water crossing.
Easy paddling above ~200-feet of water; Power Island in the center
Instead of remaining in potential boat traffic, we crossed the harbor at an angle, and then followed the shore out to the island. As we neared the edge of the harbor, breezes threatened the calm, and the water rippled.
As we paddled beyond the seagull rookery, the definitely-greater-than-5MPH winds from the northwest churned the crossing into a motion-sickness machine. Waves spilled over into little whitecaps, and occasionally splashed into our boats. Normally steering is a matter of simply looking where you’re going, but on the crossing yesterday, it seemed like I could not get my boat to go where I wanted it: instead of left paddle, right paddle it was more like right paddle, right paddle, dig in left… We weren’t frightened, but the passage was intimidating – especially when larger boats zoomed by generating additional wake.
Heading into rough waters – compare to the first water pic above for reference
Last shot before camera was stowed for safety
We eventually floated into shallow waters again, and chose a point on the northwest side of the island to hop out. Like the last time we paddled to the island, the rest of the boaters remained on the east side, leaving us alone with the swans.
After making sure the kayaks weren’t going to float off without us, we waded out into the cool, clear water.
The bottom was too rocky for playing, and the water is still not what you’d call warm, so we didn’t stay out too long. We perched on some large boulders to dry off, and then climbed back in our boats to begin the return.
This time we skirted the north end of the island, in the shallows, and then paddled across the narrowest part of the pass. There must be more current through there than we at first realized, because heading back across – while not as effortless as slicing through the water in my header would be – steering was not a chore. In fact, the paddling seemed easy.
Water drops and Old Mission Peninsula backdrop – summer kayaking staples
In another move for safety, we chose to follow the shore all around the harbor on the return instead of zipping across the center. The water was still calm, though the surface was riffled this time, but we are wary of boaters who might speed into us.
These lovely craft with whom we shared the harbor did not make us wary…
As we paddled back into the boat launch area, our friend Mr. Eagle flew overhead, winging his goodbye. I’m positive he kept his eye out for us 😉