Adventurer Challenges Himself for Winter Kayaking

Patrick O’Connell has island-hopped by kayak to raise awareness in a Wisconsin-Michigan state park and the Grand Traverse Islands National Lakeshore, starting with the islands at the tip of the Door peninsula. But now the Sturgeon Bay resident and kayak guide is continuing his adventures by boldly going to a place he’s never been before: local waters in the winter.

O’Connell invested about $650 in a semi-dry suit for winter kayaking, and he tried it out on a day when a large casino boat was being moved past Sturgeon Bay’s famous steel lift bridge.

Patrick O’Connell. Submitted.

“I’m hoping to continue paddling all winter long, when the winds allow it,” he said. “Paddling in a dry suit is not much different than paddling in regular clothes, except [for] the tight neck gasket, which takes a little getting used to. 

“You still need plenty of insulation underneath it. I was wearing merino-wool base layers, a down jacket and down insulated pants underneath it. I was quite toasty warm except for my feet. I’m still working on that one.”

Learn more about winter kayaking and other cold Door County adventures in the Winter edition of Door County Living magazine, on newsstands now.