Pictured Rocks Kayaking launches new vessel

Kayakers are launched from Kayak Express, Pictured Rocks Kayaking’s new vessel. (Photo courtesy of Pictured Rocks Kayaking.)

MUNISING — Kayak Express, the newest Pictured Rocks Kayaking vessel that allows kayakers to launch into Lake Superior offshore, took its first passengers along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore recently.

The addition of a second vessel has allowed Pictured Rocks Kayaking to expand its guided kayaking tours to four trips per day. Tours run at 9 and 10 a.m., and 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Designed to take 72 passengers, six guides and 36 kayaks, the 64-by-19-foot vessel was built at Moran Iron Works’ headquarters in Onaway. Construction on the vessel began late last year. The new boat recently sailed to the Upper Peninsula through the Soo Locks, landing in Munising Bay.

An increased demand for guided kayaking excursions around Pictured Rocks was the company’s main push to obtain another vessel, said Capt. Joe Lasak, general manager and part owner of Pictured Rocks Kayaking.

Lasak said the difference between Kayak Express and the Pictured Rocks, the kayak guide company’s first vessel, is that the Kayak Express was designed specifically for kayak launching.

A boat is launched from Kayak Express, Pictured Rocks Kayaking’s new vessel. (Photo courtesy of Pictured Rocks Kayaking)

“Pictured Rocks was retrofitted and has worked great for what we’ve needed so far,” Lasak said in a press release. “However, the Kayak Express was designed specifically for launching kayaks into the water. It can handle two kayaks at the same time instead of one. The vessel was designed solely on what we’ve learned over the years.”

The main engines of the Kayak Express are twin Cummins QSK19, rated at 800 horsepower each, driving propellers through Twin Disc reduction gears. Twin Seakeeper HD gyro stabilizers were fitted for passenger comfort and safety. The hull is a double-chine, variable deadrise monohull, designed for improved seakeeping and efficiency. The vessel’s hull, structure, machinery, and electrical systems were designed by DLBA — a division of Gibbs & Cox Inc. — to meet U.S. Coast Guard Subchapter T requirements.

“The vessel is faster, wider, more stable and was built in Michigan,” said John Madigan, CEO of Pictured Rocks Kayaking.

Lee Fayssoux, project manager at Moran Iron Works, said in a statement that the vessel is a “revolutionary way of experiencing the beauty that Northern Michigan, particularly Pictured Rocks, has to offer.”

Pictured Rocks Kayaking offers trips for varied ages and abilities. Since a launch boat follows kayakers as they paddle, they’ll always be within a reasonable distance of emergency help and restrooms if needed. Families and seniors can choose to take a break at any time, making their trip as comfortable as possible.

Trips are roughly four to five hours long with around two hours — or 5 miles — of kayaking time. Tours begin on a vessel at the East Channel of Munising Bay and head into Lake Superior, where kayakers are launched just past Painted Coves, getting a chance to enjoy the most intimate views of many points of interest along the lakeshore. Once finished with the paddle portion of the trip, kayakers board the boat for a ride back to shore.

For more information, visit www.paddlepicturedrocks.com.