Posts Tagged 'Kent Lake'

detroit SUP festival 2012

this weekend, Saturday, July 28th, is the Detroit SUP Festival 2012.  when I first caught wind of this event, I was thinking it might be held in Detroit, specifically on the Detroit River. turns out the event will be on Kent Lake in Kensington Metropark (I’ve sailed there a few times), so in a northwest suburb of Detroit.  not exactly Detroit, but I guess close enough to call it the Detroit SUP Festival 2012.

early Saturday morning there will be a 3 mile recreational class short course race, followed by a 6 mile Elite class race.  the 3 mile race says it is for all ages and abilities, but the racing is 13 years and up… not sure what that means.

the event is free for spectators and non-competitors, and there will be vendors on site, and I would imagine the opportunity for product demonstrations.  if you’re interested in the sport of stand-up paddling, or are just a water sport loving person – you should stop by and check out the event.  the event is being held at the Maple Beach area at Kensington (link to .pdf map), which is on the west side of the lake.

one of the events main sponsors is Detroit Surf Co, who makes a pretty sweet looking SUP board, all locally crafted in Michigan.  not sure if they’ll have any of the limited supply of these new SUP boards, but I would hope so.


GoPro camera points of view on a Sunfish sailboat

when I first got my GoPro Hero camera – it was actually the GoPro Hero Surf package (they now have an improved version 2 camera, mine is the original version), which included a giant stick-on disc to mount to a surfboard, or in my case I could mount it to the deck of my sailboat.  but I wasn’t sure how easily those adhesive disc things would be to remove, or relocate – so I tried to come up with my own solution for mounting the video camera.

I initially took some video with it sitting in various positions on the Sunfish to get an idea of what images it would capture while I was sailing. this is sitting up near the bow handle, looking backwards.  as you can see, the majority of the frame would be blocked by the sail for most of the video.

I then tried a position with it mounted right near the splashguard, but with it facing backwards – you wouldn’t see the sail really at all, and just a lot of pictures of me sitting their trying to sail and not tip the boat over. so I finally chose instead to mount the camera to the tiller, back near the rudder, facing forwards.  I built a little jig out of scrap wood that fit tightly to the tiller, and then one of the smaller adhesive bases for the GoPro camera could mount to that jig and securely hold the video camera.

I like this mount – it gives a nice overall point of view, and the wide angle lens on the GoPro picks up quite a bit of the sailing action, and is close enough to pick up some bits of noise from me talking with whomever I am sailing with that day.  I also liked that the point of view would rotate side to side as the tiller was shifted to change directions in the boat.  I was able to get some great video with this mounting position – this one is me sailing with my 2 younger boys on Lake Michigan, and this one is sailing with my wife on Crystal Lake.

here is a picture example from sailing on a calm afternoon with my wife on East Grand Traverse Bay at Traverse City, Michigan.

and another picture – this from the video of sailing with my 2 boys on Lake Michigan.

last year, I found a sweet deal on Craigslist for a much newer Sunfish sailboat – but was frustrated to find that my tiller mount would not work with the new boat.  the deck surface had enough curvature and the tiller was positioned much closer to the top of the deck, and prevented me from being able to use the little wooden jig I had created.  my solution was to break down and buy one of the custom mounting kits from GoPro – this would allow me to mount the camera to a round pipe such as the Sunfish mast or spars/booms.  again, I wanted to test out various camera points of view with this new mount, so I set the Sunfish up in the driveway, and attached the mount in various positions to test out what a video might look like.

this is mounted to the upper boom, way up in the air.  a major disadvantage with this mounting position is you would have to leave the camera running the entire time, and it would eventually either fill up your memory card or drain your battery if you are sailing for a while.  the point of view might be able to be improved upon if you were to point the camera back towards the boat where you would be sitting, or even straight down – but I wasn’t too impressed by this general point of view, so I’ve never revisited it.

another option now available is to hang the camera upside down from the lower boom, as  GoPro now has a “upside down” setting you can turn on prior to taking any video, and it will automatically “flip” the recorded image for you, so viewing the recorded video on your TV or computer will be in normal mode, and you wouldn’t have to edit that in post-production.  I like this point of view, but haven’t tried taking a video while sailing with it.

I instead chose to use the GoPro custom mount and install it at the very end of the lower boom.  the camera’s lens is such a wide angle that although it is sitting close to the sail, I didn’t think it was too distracting to affect the video quality.  here is what the mount then looks like.

here is an example picture from this mount, from a sail with my middle son out on Lake Erie.

I really enjoy this point of view, and how it moves and shifts with the sail as you change course, and tack back and forth while sailing. here an example video from last year sailing on Kent Lake, Michigan.

the major disadvantage with this mount is that you can’t turn the camera on or change any settings after you initially turn it on and climb into the boat.  I’m beginning to think the upside down mount, installed not so far out on the lower boom might be a worthwhile position to try mounting the GoPro, as you’d then be able to adjust the camera settings and turn the video on and off in the middle of a sailing trip.

overall, I’ve been extremely happy with the GoPro video camera for sailing – I’ve recorded a lot of hours of video (although finding time to edit it down to something short enough to share online is tough).  it’s also great for just playing with in the water when swimming or anything of that nature.  I hope the various pictures and videos above will give you an idea of the various points of view available when mounting a GoPro (or similar) camera onto your Sunfish sailboat or similar sailing dinghy.

Michigan: a great place to sail

one awesome feature of the state of Michigan (distances according to Wikipedia) is that:

no point in Michigan is more than six miles (10 km) from an inland lake or more than 85 miles (137 km) from one of the Great Lakes.

with all that water around, there are plenty of opportunities to sail: there are yacht clubs galore established on many of the inland lakes, or spread out along the Great Lakes coastlines, as well as sailing clubs and teams at area high schools and colleges, and there is also the occasional sailing school where you could take sailing lessons if you choose.

several of Michigan’s colleges and universities have collegiate sailing teams that sail as members of the Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association, or the college might have just a sailing club, that often uses the facilities of a local yacht club nearby (Sail Michigan has a good list of both).  in the lower part of Michigan, there is both Michigan State University in East Lansing (collegiate team and sailing club) and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (collegiate team and sailing club), as well as several other smaller colleges with teams and/or clubs.  a few of Michigan’s high schools offer sailing as well, but it is not a huge list (again, Sail Michigan has a good list on their website).

most of the sailing schools in Michigan are situated near one of the Great Lakes, but in the Metro Detroit area, you can find the American Sailing Institute, which sails on Kent Lake in Kensington Metropark, as well as Stoney Creek Metropark and Lake St Clair.

you can also find community sailing in Michigan, as the Traverse Area Community Sailing has been operating up in the northwest corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula for almost 20 years now.  I had a chance to visit their facility about a year and a half ago, and was really impressed!  I really wish that the Metro Detroit area had a similar community sailing system set up, as I think it’d be a great way to introduce more people to sailing.

Traverse City isn’t exactly in my neighborhood, though, and I’ve never taken any classes at the sailing schools or clubs around, so I have taught myself to sail by reading some books, and learning by trial and error out on the water.

so over the past few years, I have tried to take advantage of Michigan’s plethora of water, and sail on a variety of the nearby inland lakes (if I can find a public access point), as well as sailing on the Great Lakes when I get a chance.

I’ve sailed several times on Lake Michigan.  two summers ago, I added Lake Huron on a trip up to Tawas Bay – the “Cape Cod of the Midwest”.  and this last summer, I added another one of the Great Lakes to my list, as I sailed a couple times on Lake Erie.

this leaves me with only Lake Superior and Lake Ontario to round out all 5 Great Lakes, although the last 2 will probably be the hardest to cross of my list, as both will entail serious drive times just to get there.

not every sailing trip has been great though – I got stuck in weeds and then had to sail with dead carp floating around me at Kent Lake – with video evidence!

but the nice thing is that there will always be another lake not too far away that I can try the next time if I get too frustrated with the sailing on that lake.

probably one of my best sailing memories is spending a few days sailing on a couple lakes in Michigan’s northwest lower peninsula with my wife.  we sailed twice on the East Bay near Traverse City, and then had an awesome sailing day on Crystal Lake – an absolutely amazing lake to sail on (and perhaps my favorite thus far of any lake I’ve sailed in Michigan).

but, I think a big key to some of my fondest sailing memories is sharing the trip with someone – often times one (or more) of my 3 young boys, or the 3-day trip with my wife (that’s about the only time I’ve been able to get her to sail with me on the Sunfish!), a friend from college, my siblings, even my father one time on Lake Michigan!  here’s a video from a great day of sailing on Lake Michigan – it was a fairly calm day with light winds, and I was able to slowly sail back and forth along the coastline of Lake Michigan, giving short rides on the Sunfish to my kids, a few of their cousins, and even a few adults who wanted to give it a try!


so does Michigan offer this more specifically than any other state or exotic sailing island in a much more tropical climate? no, not really.  but, for me, the best sailing place is one that I can get to easily, and enjoy the time out in the wind, on the water, and hopefully sharing that memory with someone as well.  and Michigan has a lot of options for getting out on the water – sailing, swimming, kayaking or whatever water sport you choose, no matter where you are living right now.

so even though my boat of choice the Sunfish can get a little cramped with me and 2 kids riding along, or maybe ride a bit low in the water if I’m sailing with another adult, the fellowship of sailing with a friend, or the sheer joy I see on my kid’s face (or that of any other child I’ve had a chance to give a ride on the Sunfish) has been amazing.  my 3 1/2 year old son has already asked me a few times this spring to take him sailing again.  maybe this year or in the near future, I’ll work in racing other Sunfish – the Greater Detroit Sunfish Club is a local club option that seems like a great place to start.


this post is for the sailing blogfather Tillerman (at his blog Proper Course) who had requested that fellow bloggers write about the “Top Sailing Destination on the Planet.”  as much as I would like to, I just don’t sail nearly as much some of the other bloggers, and not nearly as much or in as varied exotic places as Tillerman has been lucky to sail.  that being said, the post above is my case: Michigan is a great place to sail.

a reason for all the dead carp

so, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I went sailing on Kent Lake (here’s the video) at Kensington Metropark near Brighton, Michigan.  the plethora of weeds was frustrating for sure, but the odor and sight of dead fish floating by certainly didn’t help my opinion of the lake that day.  I had figured they were dead carp, but didn’t inspect one close enough to actually verify it – and wasn’t sure what would cause so many carp to die off at once.


apparently, it’s a a disease that is killing the carp: “spring viremia of carp — which causes infected fish to become extremely lethargic”.  there is an article about it in the Livingston Daily: “Fish die-off hits area waters“.

Up to 500 carp died over the weekend at Kensington Metropark’s Kent Lake and portions of the Huron River, likely due to a virus called spring viremia of carp, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

my brother suggested that the government should find a way to distribute the spring viremia to all the Asian carp that are infesting the rivers, and threatening to reach the Great Lakes.  killing them off with this spring viremia might be a more effective form of control than the Asian Carp Control Program (ACCP).

Asian Carp Control Program (ACCP)



swim & paddle with HRWC

the next 2 weekends offer some chances to get together with the Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) for some local activities (details here).

this Sunday, July 17th, is “Swim Baseline Lake” (hosted at the Michigan Sailing Club).  this is a community swim from the river channel through Baseline Lake, approximately 1 mile of swimming.  advance payment & registration is required.

also on Sunday, July 17th, there will be a “Paddle Instruction” on the Huron River, hosted by REI, from 10am to noon.  more information is also at REI’s website.

REI will provide a recreational and family oriented paddle instruction at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor. You can enjoy learning to paddle in a kayak or a canoe provided free of charge by the Gallup Park Livery. Free, all the basic strokes (forward, reverse, sweep, draws, stopping and braces) are covered.

the following weekend, Saturday, July 23rd and Sunday, July 24th, there is an “Overnight Paddle“.  this event is also free, but advanced registration is required.

Meet at Island Lake State Recreation Area at 2 p.m. on Saturday just below Kent Lake Dam to leave boats and gear. We will then caravan to the take out point at Huron Meadows Metropark and leave cars. Our shuttle will bring paddlers back to put-in.  Camping that evening at Island Lake State Recreation Area Canoe Camp. Continue on the next day to takeout at Huron Meadows Metropark.

sunfish sailing on Kent Lake [video]

here’s a short video I put together from my sailing adventure a few days ago on Kent Lake at Kensington Metropark in Michigan.  you can see the frustration I was having with the weeds, see a few dead fish go floating by, but also at least a decent bit of sailing that afternoon.

this is my 1st time mounting the GoPro HD Surf Hero video camera out on the lower boom – I kind of like the perspective it gives.  watching the video, I can also see that the camera angle/view gives more of an idea when I was getting into the weeds, as there were times out on the water that I didn’t even realize I was getting close to a weed cluster.

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