Full Moon Sea Kayaking South Haven

How many times have you kayaked under the full moon? How many times have you paddled a sea kayak under the stars on the Great Lakes? How many times have you chased a wave in the dark on Lake Michigan?

In the end these will be the questions you ask yourself as you go to meet your maker. It won’t be how much money you had in your wallet, or how many times you mowed your fucking lawn, I can tell you that.

Paul Bowles said:

“Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps 20. And yet it all seems limitless.”

A dear friend reminded me of this quote not too long ago. The words have stood like a lonely luminescent marker on a long highway for me. Jon Turk often mentions this balance between logic and magic, and I have to tell you as I get older, the more sense Jon Turk makes to me. Do we spend too much energy on logic as a society? I say we do. Even from a guy who spends his day looking at web analytics and SEO, I would say that poetry is more important than numbers. Numbers will get you to the moon, but poetry will tell you what it means. To me that is the difference.

So we were talking about a full moon paddle!

Magical is the word. You really haven’t lived until you’ve pushed a sea kayak along wind waves in the dark. The winking light of sunset dwindled across the surface of Lake Michigan and left a slow burn of orange across the sky. We waited anxiously in the brief flat horizon of the dark between sunset and moonrise. About 45 minutes after sunset I pointed shoreward and said, “What the hell is that orange glow, a volcano?”. Oh no it was the moon! As it rose over the water I was treated to the most spectacular moonrise of my life. I’ve seen some harvest moons for sure along the highway. But this was something else. Isolated, like when you see a flower in the middle of a muddy lawn. Sitting in the boat I love, on the lake I love, where I have risked life and limb in the surf countless times I finally got to see the moon rise over the water. The reflection off of the lake was bright like white sand under the sun.

I have two other quotes that I will share, from two songs, one I find surprising to understand due to it’s classic nature and my disposition towards classic rock:

Well, its a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
neath the cover of october skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And Im trying to please to the calling
Of your heart-strings that play soft and low
And all the nights magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush

And the other from Will Oldham that doesn’t surprise me at all from (my home is the sea) Superwolf

My home is the sea
Disaster flies upon me
And I scream
Now we can see the house lights
Colored from a distance
[For a party as a dream ?]

You have to come out for the next full moon paddle!


  1. Pingback:South Manitou Island Sea Kayak Trip | Go Kayak Now!

  2. I'm just learning to kayak (all on my own, as I don't know anyone who kayaks in my area), and hadn't thought of a moonlight paddle, but I DID go out on the river the other night to see the city fireworks. It was amazing.

  3. I'm checking the calendar for the next full moon.

  4. simply rearrange the above sentences into something that makes sense

  5. And I thought EVERYBODY got to see the moon rise from a kayak, and it was just I who was the last one…

    The sunset afterglow drew out longer than I can ever remember. And watching the moon rise over a calm lake MI with little tiny NW swell was spectacular, in a non-threatening way. Which was different from other spectacular Keith-organized kayak outings…

    Rolling in the pitch-black shadow near shore was a bit like rolling was quite fun, sort of like a sensory depravation tank.

    I just can't believe I couldn't find my camera!

    P.S. The glow on the horizon WAS in the right direction for Chicago AND Gary. They are equidistant from South Haven. The other barely distinguishable glow WAS probably in the right direction for Milwaukee. What do you think?

  6. I remember one time (back before kids) when Doug and I paddled weekly out of Port Sheldon. We paddled 5-6 miles west to see the sunset, then turned around and paddled back toward shore under a full moon. I did a roll just for fun and during my set up, looked up through the water at the full moon above. It WAS magical.