Original Published on Jun 29, 2022 at 14:25

By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — Imagine paddling in a kayak across the serene water of Lake Superior through a beautiful and protected wilderness archipelago — a sea or stretch of water containing many islands. 

For more than five years, Such a Nice Day (SAND) Adventures has been providing sea kayaking tours designed for the coastal Lake Superior environment.

Zack Kruzins, the owner of the Rossport-based company, has travelled and kayaked in many parts of the world and called his Northern Ontario kayak route a paradise. The business is affiliated with a bed and breakfast that can accommodate visitors who are participating in kayak tours or expeditions. 

Kruzins offers a selection of adventures for all levels of kayakers, including beginners. He also offers ice paddling through the winter months for those up to the challenge of navigating through open water between the lake ice. Kayaks can only be rented to “experienced” paddlers because the lake is vast, cold and unpredictable.

“I have dry suits that will fit all people for the protection of the cold water,” he said. “It is a cold water environment and a lot of people are intimidated by it. I provide skills training courses to get people more comfortable on the big lake to comfortably explore the wonders of Lake Superior.”

Kruzins offers a variety of paddling experiences and says his tours are conducive to the inexperienced paddler.

“That’s what the tours are perfect for because we go out with expert guides, and do half-day treks of three to four hours; full-day, five to seven-hour expeditions and two-hour sunset tours in Rossport,” he said. 

“People can decide if they want to double or single kayak. If they’re going with a friend or partner, they can go in a double kayak which is super stable, secure and comfortable.”

For those who want to learn how to kayak, Kruzins offers half-day and full-day instructional programs called the Superior Starter Course that provides a Canada level one certification upon completion.

‘It’s the training necessary if you’re going to learn how to paddle on Lake Superior,” he said, adding that he is organizing the programs in Thunder Bay as well. The weekend scheduled courses include accommodation at the bed and breakfast with meals.

Not everything was smooth sailing for Kruzins. 

He faced the supply chain shortage and struggled to acquire more kayaks to add to his fleet of 25. Dry suits were also unavailable. He eventually received them but struggles with storage.

“I was overwhelmed with the business because in 2020 (during the height of the pandemic) I had so many people contacting me and I didn’t have the resources,” he said. 

“I had to say, ‘no’, to 70 per cent of the people contacting me, but last year I prepared myself and I hired about eight staff and got a lot more equipment — which was very hard to get.”

Kruzins is working with the City of Thunder Bay to expand his operation to the waterfront, but obtaining a spot for his business isn’t easy.

“I’ve had to turn down grants to hire staff. I can’t hire them because I can’t operate in Thunder Bay,” he said.

Cory Halverson, the city’s parks manager, says the city is listening and there are many factors to consider.

“We are open to those types of opportunities and finding a good fit for that, but we’re going to try and do it through a controlled process that lets us review everyone’s ideas in a controlled manner,” Halverson said. “We want to wind up the development of the next phase of the marina and the waterfront, towards the cruise ship docks. That will be our opportunity to clean up some of the utilization challenges that we see with existing buildings.”

Meanwhile, Kruzins has diversified his business with the addition of a 34-foot canoe that is based at Silver Islet and used for custom tour programs for different groups. Through a contract with Viking Cruise Line, he is providing canoe trips for cruise ship passengers when they anchor at Silver Islet. He has 12 scheduled dates set in place.

“Passengers are being shuttled off the ship to the dock where staff meets them to take them for a paddle in the canoe,” Kruzins said.

Experts on kayaking on the big lake, Kruzins and Darrell Makin wrote and published the Paddling Guide to the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area. The book features a variety of ways to navigate and explore the region with historical, ecological, cultural, economic and recreational information and stories.

Go online at www.suchaniceday.com for more information or for a full online booking.

This item reprinted with permission from The Chronicle-Journal, Thunder Bay, Ontario