MC 16.5 in waves

Posted by Peter Lyons on Jun 21, 2004

I had my Mill Creek 16.5 out over the weekend for some near-shore paddling in Green Bay on Lake Michigan. Since this boat has only been out a few times, these were certainly the largest waves I've seen in that boat. One evening I headed out from shore with a wind blowing in off the lake. As we headed out further, I found the swells out toward the mouth of this small bay were quite a bit larger than the ones rolling onto the beach when we set out. I wouldn't wan't to exaggerate the size, but if I had to venture a guess, I'd put them at 1 1/2 or 2 feet. Some of them would foam a bit at the crest, but were not breaking. The MC handled all of this quite well at any angle of approach going into the wind and waves. The waves were on a short period, so sometimes the bow would take some water over the deck as we came off one roller and punched into the bottom of the next, but hey, some water over the deck only makes it more fun! Once we turned back toward shore, that's when it became much more challenging to control the boat. It's obviously not fast enough to surf, so we still wind up riding up and over each wave as it approaches from our rear. The challenge it to keep a straight course - the kayak really has a strong tendency to broach. Now, I'm anything but an accomplished paddler; my only ways of steering the boat are what is intuitive to me - you know, sweep on the outside of a turn, and backpaddle on the inside if you really have to turn in a hurry. Anyhow, that's just what I had to do to control the broaching. I couldn't paddle hard enough on the inside of the broaching motion to straighten the boat out. Only by braking on the outside could I ever correct the course once we'd really started to turn parallel to the waves. It was an interesting outing. I'm sure that given time I'll learn to control it better - and of course, I know it's designed as a flatwater craft (a tandem one, at that - I was the only paddler, with a couple of my kids riding along), but I was definitely surprised at how much of a fight I was up against when the wind and waves wanted me facing a different direction than I had in mind!