Kayaking in Port Colborne, Niagara Region, Ontario
I recently bought a plywood touring Kayak at an estate sale. I have a lot of experience in various boats but my only kayak experience is a few hours in a white water Kayak in the Kenogami river in Quebec. I've been gradually taming my new boat in several different conditions and I've gained some confidence.
After a few experiments and a few dunkings I figured out the balance of the kayak. It feels very tippy with low initial stability but when it gets to a certain angle it has good secondary stability. This inspires confidence and I have been exploring the waters around my home.
Lake Erie is a sneaky lake and can come up in just a few minutes, if you decide to go to Port Colborne kayaking, check the weather, particularly if you plan to go out of the harbour onto the lake.
Here is a link to the Port Colborne Map The Launch point is behind the Hospital, Niagara Health Port Colborne. It's just to the West of the Sugar Loaf Harbour Marina, on the west side of the Welland Canal. It's also next to the LL Knoll Lakeview Park.
If you prefer you can launch from Nickel Beach. If there are no waves it might be easier to launch in sand rather than from a ramp, but it is not as protected.
There is a large parking lot that can accommodate cars and boat trailer. There are parking machines where you pay for your parking. There are seasons pass available from the city.
Porta-potties are close by. The boat launch can get quite busy I think. I was there on a friday morning and 5 boats launched and came out in the short time I was getting ready. There is lots of fishing in the area.
There are 2 sets of breakwalls so the launch area and Marina are well protected. It is large enough to allow for a happy hour or two of kayaking if you are hesitant in going out onto the canal or the Lake.
The area is called Gravelly bay. I did not see any gravel because the water was a bit green and there are several shallower area that are quite weedy. Frogs lurked in these weeds. There are cormorants, canada geese, a few varieties of gulls and ducks. I also saw quite a lot of fish. A huge one jumped by the boat.
I was timid about going out on the lake but it was very calm. There were a few boat wakes and swells and these bounced off the breakwall and made the water confused. I think in rougher weather it would be a better idea to get away from the wall. The breakwall has 3 lighthouses, one on each end. The wall has a bend with the second lighthouse jutting out into the lake.
It was a beautiful day with just a small breeze, lots of birds and blue sky. Warm fall days are such a gift.
After coming around the lighthouse and heading towards town and the Welland Canal there is a triangular shaped area with wall on 2 sides and the swell was quite surprising. Waves were bouncing around and they were hard to predict. I think this area could be dangerous if the waves and wakes were larger. It is exposed to both the traffic of the Welland Canal and waves coming in from the Lake.
Since there were no large ships coming I moved closer to the centre.
The Lakers transport Ore and Grain and various other cargo and are huge. If one is coming, get well out of the way. Not only can they not stop for you but they disturb the water and cause currents and wakes.
At this point you can go back to the launch ramp by going left of the grain/milling buildings. If you go to the right of the large grain buildings, you follow the opening of the Welland Canal to Port Colborne. There are municipal docks and restaurants on the left (west) side.
Instead of coming back to the launch site you can cross to the East side of the canal and go on to Nickel Beach for a picknick and a swim.
I paddled the kayak as far as the bridge over the canal but there was a warning to small boats that there were "dangerous waters" ahead so I turned around. I think it's an overflow for the canal and helps adjust water level in the first lock. I've seen it from the road and sometimes there is very strong currents and lots of boiling water.
Old Cogs and wheels, left over from previous canal mechanisms.
Heading back towards Sugar Loaf Marina there is a Pilot Boat
Back towards the launch you can follow the breakwall back or go right in towards the marina buildings. If you squeeze under the 2 small bridges you can get back to the launch ramp.
There is also a higher bridge. If you check out the small inlet you will find a quiet pond filled with ducks, geese and other birds.
The marina has a wakeboard set up. Energetic youngsters get dragged along a overhead wire at great speed. There are jumps and various contraptions to slide on. It looks like great fun.
It took me about 3 hours of leasurely paddling to launch, paddle and put my kayak back on the car.
Kayaking books and stuff
- The Art of Kayaking: Everything You Need to Know About Paddling
- Fifty Places to Paddle Before You Die: Kayaking and Rafting Experts Share the World’s Greatest Destinations
- Recreational Kayaking The Ultimate Guide
- Forbidden Road 2L 5L 10L 15L 20L Waterproof Dry Bag for Kayaking
- Carlisle Magic Plus Kayak Paddle - Polypro Blades/Fiberglass Shaft (Sunrise, 220 cm)
- Paddle Leash with a 2 Rod Leash Set, 3 Leashes Total Plus 1 Carabiner. Built to Last.
- AUNAZZ/Downwind Wind Sail Kit Wind Paddle 42 inches Kayak Canoe Accessories, Easy Setup & Deploys Quickly, Compact & Portable Green
- Lifetime Warranty TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier Roof Top Mounted