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How fast do you cruise?

So, I'm reading bowler1's post on canoes and speed and he's paddling 4.5 mph all day! Now, if he says that's the speed he can manage in his canoe I believe him. But it leaves me feeling like a big Salley! Granted, I'm not generally out to eat up miles but paddle for pleasure and I usually manage maybe 3.5mph with a stroke I could sustain for...a good while. I know I can sprint up to about 8mph. My numbers are by gps.

Anyway, it got me wondering how fast y'all cruise. Y'know, just a steady pace. What kind of speed do you get? And while we're at it, what kind of boat, paddle and stroke.

Current Designs Sirocco
Aquabound Carbon/ABX 220 Eagle Ray
Low Angle


  • I cruise at
    5.3 to 5.4 mph but most of it is because of the boat. I paddle a KajakSport Artisan Millenium. It is a nice 18'3" foot length greenland style boat. With my 16' Perception Captiva I was a FULL 1 mph less with the same effort.

    Jeff P.
  • Options
    getting faster
    I basically started kayaking (mostly ocean) about a year ago and could only do about a bit over 3.5mph or so. I got out quite a bit (twice a week or more for months) and now I can do 10+ miles at about 4.5mph. A lot of that was improved form and some from improved strength. Not sure about full out sprinting.
  • lily dip at
    3.5, Cruise solo at 4.5 to 4.9 Sprint at 5.4+ for short spells. In a tandem it depends on the canoe and partner. I have cruised at 7 mph for hour on flat water in a Cruiser, 6mph in a stock boat( Interesting time that. Randy and Iused a Metronome after the first 4 miles so we kept our cadence and speed up
    for the whole 40 miles)
  • lily dip...
    I like that.
  • Our group usually cruises at 3.5-4 mph.
    I have pushed my boat up to 6.0 ,but can't sustain it.
  • 4.5 alone, 3.5 w group
  • Check Freya's blog ;)
    -- Last Updated: Mar-15-09 10:16 AM EST --

    Check her spreadsheet (and Paul Caffyn's #s are in there too).

    It is very educational to see. She's making only slightly more than 3 miles per hour each day on the water, on the average, if my math is right. In one of the fastest sea kayaks available. But fully loaded... And she is a very strong paddler.

    With the same paddle she's using (Epic mid-wing) but in a much slower boat (Perseption Sonoma 13.5), today I made 4.5 mph average over 10 miles (I'm faster, see!) with some energy to spare at the end but not too far off my "mild race pace" either - heart rate was in the low 150 beats per minute this last time, most of the time. Couple of weeks ago I managed 4.2 mph average over 12 miles at about 140 beats per minute in that same boat and a greenland paddle. But I am tired after that and would not be able to do that every day for a year ;(. And it's only 10-12 miles. In that same boat I can cruise with virtually no effort though at 4 mph in good conditions though (but I get bored so I usually go a little faster and thus tire much faster ;).

    That's on mostly flat water (less than 1 foot waves) with some wind and tide but since I'm doing a round-trip it averages out.

    Moving and rough water is another story. In a much faster boat (CD Extreme, loaded with me plus may be 50 lb of winter/spare/safety gear and food/water) I managed just over 3 mph or so over a 6 mile crossing: going may be 75 degree against mostly 2 foot with many 3 foot waves with white caps and may be 10-15 mph winds with the occasional 20 mph gust, some light tide against me as well, so I was probably doing 4+ mph actual speed. Got there barely tired - I was planning to paddle back after a short rest and was not really sure how tired I would be or if the wather would turn worse, so I preserved my strength on the way out and did not hurry on the first leg. If I had paddled harder, I still doubt I could have done much better than 4.5-5 mph in these conditions though and still have enough energy to get back for the second 6 miles safely... If I had to do it "all day" I think I could not do more than about 4 mph average in good conditions with almost no load in the boat...

    A fellow paddler (ordinary guy, not a fitness nerd) did a 6.6 mph average over about 10 miles in his last race a KayakPro Marlin. In my much slower boat I could not do more than 5 over this same distance and I would be *very* tired at the end. And by much slower I mean it - in my faster sea kayak I can sprint to a little over 7 mph and may be maintain close to 6 mph for an hour without too much trouble. In this - max speed as well as max sustained speed has been at least a mile per hour slower for me even though I can apply more power in it due to its better ergonomics... So the boat makes a big difference but the paddler and conditions add a huge uncertainty to the equation.

    So it varies a lot. The best thing is to get a GPS with a heart rate monitor if you are interested in this. Really helps to fine-tune your technique and also when comparing equipment. You can see easily where your boat begins to bog down this way - your heart rate starts to go steeply up while your speed barely increases... There is too much added effort in paddling beyond the point where your boat just wants to slow down back to its "cruise" speed...

    So lots of factors.

  • Options
    I'm guessing about
    3 mph on my Torrent, but that's with a 2 or 3 mph current. On flatwater, especially when I get left behind, I can cruise much slower.

    I understand wanting to go fast at times, I just don't understand those that never want to go slow.

  • Options
    I don't like to get my heart up to Kocho's 150 beats per second....I would die. Just too old to handle 9000 beats per minute I guess.....lol. In all seriousness though, I will usually run at 3 mph upriver on the Red, and around 5 downriver. I have run up to 7 mph for shorter distances, but prefer to keep a slower pace I can maintain
  • Depends on which boat
    If I take my CD Caribou, I cruise around 4.3 mph solo. With my BBK Recluse, just over 4.5, and with my Anas Acuta, right around 4.1 if the GPS is to be believed.

    I've had the Recluse and the Caribou up around 8 mph, but I collapse in a heap after about 100 yards of that. The Anas yells "Cut it out" around 6.4.

    Of course, since I paddle mostly in salt water that's usually moving, and preferably textured, speed varies day to day.

    It's good to know how fast you do go and can go (Esp for trip planning and navigation), but don't obsess on it. If the speed you paddle at is fun, that's all that really matters.
  • Oh no..
    -- Last Updated: Mar-15-09 9:14 AM EST --

    I'm definetley not obsessed with speed...at all. I just find it curious, like a science project, to hear what others have experienced related to this topic. I'm generally a mid to high 3mph cruiser. I suppose I could go faster, maybe mid 4's for a good bit but that would be too much like exercise. Seems I saw this quote here and liked it, "I get enough exercise just pushing my luck."

    Good stuff y'all, thanks.


  • Yesterday 6.3 mph
    Paddling steady but easy. We had a heckuva push from the tide. When I tried to slow down by paddling really easy, I was still doing 5.3.

    Sea kayaks of various brands. Mine is a WS Tempest 170 poly with three times the normal surface area on the bottom due to scratches and crevaces and gouges.

    Seriously it was a heckuva push for 16 miles (except for Paul who was restless in the morning and decided to go both ways - 32 miles - starting out in the fog and dark) in the middle of a very wide river pushing out to sea.

    That won't happen again. As we spoke yesterday, in a few weeks that same river will be full of those that rely on motorized transportation and we won't be able to paddle down the middle and we will lose the big push.

    Mt. Pleasant, SC

  • Cruising about..
    in a Placid RapidFire, 4-5.5 depending who I am paddling with. Have had my RapidFire to 6.3,but only short distances,and never all day long. YS solo usually 3.5-5 max. It's more of a river poke boat.

  • Oops!
    Corrected the bps to bpm ;)
  • After the last trip a sea kayaker
    commented "that boat is pretty fast, isn't it". The RF.
  • Torrent
    "3 mph on my Torrent, but that's with a 2 or 3 mph current. "

    Thats with one foot pushing in the mud? Right?
  • Options

  • I don't have a GPS but by distance
    covered, I'd say 4-4.5 MPH.
  • Options
    I calculated
    my distance of a trip on google earth- 6 miles. I did it in just over 2 hrs with a break in the middle. Not counting the break, it was 2 hours or maybe slighty less. And 6/2=3 miles in one hour- 3mph with my dad.

    My cruising speed is 4-4.5 mph without my dad, but I slow down for him because he likes to take it easy. Hes almost 50, and getting old.

  • Almost 50!
    The poor guy. Has he thought about any "final arrangements" yet?
  • Maybe Dad is slowing down for you?
    Have you asked him? You are probably both slowing down for each other!

    It seems the fastest paddlers in our club are the Dad paddlers because they have the best technique. Technique is more important that boat design. If anyone doubts that, ask yourself if someone like Greg Barton or Oscar Chupulsky could go faster than you in your boat.

    If you answer 'Yes', then you get the point. If you answer 'No', then you are in denial.

  • Good lord...
    "Hope I ddddie before I get old..."
  • Options
    4-5 mph
    My gps is set to deactivate when below 1 mph, so it doesn't calculate rest stops.

    There is always a tide one way or the other so the average speed usually around 4.5.

    I'm more focused on technique though. Just switched to a hard chined boat the requires constant edging.

    Yesterday afternoon I went out in the ocean solo with 4-5 foot waves and swells that were interacting with tide and wind. So I was bracing a lot and just going real slow off shore waiting for the tide to change before coming back through the breakers.

    Total trip was 4.0 mph but I'm just happy to make it back in one piece.
  • according to my GPS
    A casual stroke tyhat I can keep upforever...

    My 12' Dirage = 3.5 mph

    My 11' Scrambler= 3 mph

    I can sprint up to 8mph but not for long. So I assume between 3-3.5mph.
  • Options
    He says its not his passion-
    so hes not so into going fast like me or mastering perfect technique. Its just a nice casual passtime for him, and that is what I treat it as when paddling with him too.
  • How fast do I cruise?
    So far a lot faster than any geeks who obsess about cruising speed or hull design / speed! That is a fact... So much so that I will no longer paddle with anybody who brings this subject up because I know they will NOT keep up.

    I'l paddle with anyone who doesn't care.....

    Safe paddling all
  • I Don't Rightly Know
    Don't have a GPS or a speedometer on my kayak. I usta stay out in front of the pack but found I could do loops or work on skills and stick with the herd. Besides, my girlfriend paddles like she is in molasses and if I leave her behind, no fun stuff for me later.

    My whole life is fast and the reason I kayak is to slow down and unwind from the BS of the workweek.

    That said, fast is still good
  • not too fast lately
    -- Last Updated: Mar-20-09 6:32 AM EST --

    wicked out of shape. Speed has not been a priority at all. It's been a lot of effort just to want to paddle. Just getting outside and on the water has been the goal. Paddling less than 10 miles at a time once a month since the end of November until about two weeks ago when the ice started to go away. Last weekend I did a ten mile, round trip, upriver and back and it took me 2 hours to paddle up (5 miles) and 45 minutes to paddle back with time to take pictures and enjoy a smoke. (OK...maybe two smoke breaks) That felt great and at no time was I working hard at all wearing a drysuit to inhibit any further exertion. Typical effortless cruising speed for me in that boat this time of year.

    Mariner Express Sea Cruiser
    bad fat laden posture. lowish angle Werner Camano

    omf it's spring today! Can you believe it! Made it through another winter.

  • Options
    cruise at...
    Average Cruising speed (flatwater, no current, no waves)

    5.5 mph
    qcc 700
    epic mid-wing

    William Reitzer-Smith
  • WilliamRS that is interesting, I am
    looking at the purchase of a QCC700. Last weekend I averaged 4.8 mph in my Nordkapp over a measured mile in no wind/current/waves anything. I consider this an athletic pace that I could do for 2-5 miles. The Kapp cruises with half strokes at ease in the 4.2 mph range in the same conditions. I am looking for a fast gear hauler with decent sea manners and have looked at the Viviane and the QCC700 as possible options. My speeds are with a homemade GP. How much faster is the QCC700 than other boats you have owned? How much faster is the wing paddle than other paddles you have owned? Thanks for any help/enlightenment. Bill
  • Options
    Cruising to me means easy effort
    which can be sustained indefinitely. In that case, almost every boat I have, I consistently turn in 3.2 mph at end of day. GPS set to stop logging below 1MPH. Same number no matter if I take the 9 footers, fat and flat, to the 17 footers, sleek and light.

  • GP vs. wing
    -- Last Updated: Mar-20-09 1:16 PM EST --

    So far, especially in my slower boats, I have seen virtually no difference after 10 miles at a brisk pace in the average speed wheather I use the Epic mid-wing or a GP. With a GP I'm usually a little less tired and diferent muscles are used too. Theoretically, the wing should be more efficient in the water but also uses more energy from the paddler to keep it in the correct posigion to be efficient is my gut feel so at the end they probably average out. For flat out speed, the wing is better though.

    Sorry, do not know about the QCC speed over a long distance but it is known as one of the faster boats out there if you have enough power to keep it up at speed (some shorter "slower" boats may be easier to paddle at a little slower speed for a longer period of time though).

  • I'm not a fast cruiser
    I'm a half-fast cruiser!
  • 2nd that
    I occasionally paddle with teenagers and while they are all fairly athletic, they sometimes have a hard time keeping up with those who are "almost 50 and getting old." Endurance and keeping a steady pace over longer distances is about technique, efficiency, experience; all which they are still developing. Look up Cliff Young, ultramarathon runner.
  • Options
    info requested...
    -- Last Updated: Mar-20-09 5:03 PM EST --


    Right now my qcc700 is in a dead heat with my Prijon Kodiak. Neither have moved an inch all day so I guess they are really slow hulls...LOL

    Joking aside,I haven't really compared cruising between the two boats...back in 2005 I did a 11.8 mile race in just a minute or two under 2 hours (up and back on a slow river)in the q700.[trinity river race] The prior year I did the same race in the Kodiak in 2:11 {a week after finishing a 100 mile race in 17:08 hours}

    In the Q700 I can hold the 5.5 mph for (at least) 5 hours...which comes to about 26 miles. I can ease up and hold just above 5 mph all day. 6mph for two hours.

    Sprinting--After about 6.3mph the Kodiak starts to hit a wall, but in the qcc I'm the one that hits a wall at about 7.4mph. needs a better engine.

    I think I could gain just a bit more mph if I lost about 80lbs (currently weigh 280)as that would decrease my draft by almost an inch in the q700

    What is a "half-stroke"?

  • Options
    -- Last Updated: Mar-20-09 4:59 PM EST --

    Discounting nature breaks and stopping for lunch--last weekend my wife and I paddled 26 miles on a lake at her all day pace of 4 mph. She paddles a Prijon Kodiak. Her 26.2 mile RACE pace is 4.8 mph.


    {keep in mind we paddle a lot of miles and are pretty efficient wiht our forward strokes}

  • Thanks, I appreciate your response.
    I guess I should have chosen my words more carefully. By half stroke I mean a lazy effort that does not result in a full forward stroke whereby I stroke in the 3/4 forward to 1/4 rearward area of the normally full forward stroke area. 4/4 being a full reach and 1/4 being the exit point. The Kapp loses little speed in this lazy semi arm paddle 1/2 stroke. Obviously there is a steepening of the resistance curve with me in the Kapp between 4.2 and 4.8 mph. All this is only relative to last Sunday's conditions. Sorry for the lazy 1/2 characterizations of the lazy 1/2 stroke:)
  • Kayak cruising
    The last time I checked my speed was Sep 2006 during a solo trip around a lake with no wind or current. I paddled my Nordkapp using a Lendal paddle with Kinetic blades. I paddled 25.3 miles in 6 hours 17 minutes with a 30-minute food break and a few other short breaks while chatting with fishermen along my route. I averaged 4.8 mph the first hour, 4.5 mph the second hour and 3.95 mph the third hour. After my food break, I averaged 4.8 mph (from mile 14.0 - 18.8) and then averaged 4.29 mph from mile 18.8 - 25.3.
  • Thanks...
    for all the good input. Very interesting to see the wide ranges of numbers and how they correlate to boat and skill level.
  • Options
    "Cruise" and "fast" do not belong in the
    same thought, much less the same sentence.
  • 70 miles in 9.2 hours
    www.canoeregatta.org It was sort of a cruise becuase I had no pit crew so I had to take my time but current was fast downstream. Did 20 miles of www.blackburnchallenge.com in 3.3 hours out on the ocean. With eft and turbo wing, I often go 7mph downstream and 5mph up. A little faster with mohican ski.
  • If you are cruising at 3.5 all day
    -- Last Updated: Apr-08-09 11:12 AM EST --

    You are not a braggard. Your are not a BS artist, and you are enjoying the day.


  • Options
    i'll bite..
    a question was asked and various answers were received...where do you feel "bragging and/or bs" was involved?


    We enjoyed the B&B with you two--too bad it was the last year for it to be held. we had fun and would have made the trip again.

    Bill (and Ann)from Texas
  • So far - only 1 "good" answer
    -- Last Updated: Mar-27-09 1:33 PM EST --

    May be a few more close to good, but only one substantiated the numbers (the poster with the QCC various pace rates).

    Most others say they do not count breaks, their GPS stops below 1 mph, unknown currents, etc. That's very misleading. To me cruising speed is the average speed over the entire trip. Obviously, long breaks/overnight stays should be excluded, but short rest stops on the water and bio breaks should be included. If we start including wild life, photography, enjoying the scenery - that's also meaningless.

    I think the original question was meant to solicit responses on reasonable top maintainable speed, not about how slow can one go. No offence meant to slow goers, just the question of how slow can you go does not really matter much as there is no constraint - you can always go slower -;)

    Also, a day trip pace will likely be different from a multi-day trip. On a one day or a half-day paddle I can exert more effort knowing I would be back and resting in the evening.

    To provide another example from my morning paddle today: average 5 mph over 2 hours (including all breaks) and I was pretty tired at the end (not exhausted as I have another 12 hours of work after that, but a good workout). I'll try to beat that when I have my "new" Rapier 18 ready for use -;.

  • Kocho, are you the Roger Ebert of posts?
    My input did not pass muster? I wasn't even "good"? I have my dagger at my belly and will do the honorable thing unless you give me back my dignity. Wait, this won't work, I have a 10" dagger for a 40" belly. Hari Kari is off for today so let me leave you with this story in an attempt to characterize "cruising". Last summer I got a chance to paddle with Greg Stamer on Lake Michigan. We had a few hours to talk about mostly his expeditions when invariably the question of speed came up. "So Greg do you cruise at this speed generally when doing a 50 mile night crossing?". "No" he said. "I guess you might slow it down to conserve energy for an unexpected event" I said. "No" he said. "Well what is your cruising speed?". At this point he studies his stroke and speed in a way that made me certain he was "hitting his grove" and pulled away from me like I was caught in a fishing net. "About this I would guess" he said to a paddler that used to be next to him. He was in an Anas and I was in my Naut LV RM. We were cruising around 3.7 to 4.0 in two footers and 15 knots of wind. I would guess his "cruising" pace was closer to 5.0 to 5.5. If he were in the Greenlander Pro he used for Newfoundland it might have been even more. This experience reminded me of when I would play summer hockey with the CCHA college kids after just finishing our winter league. It is not the same game. The speed at which sports are played professionally is the difference between pro and not pro. So why worry about it. Wanna race? Well, do ya punk?
  • Convincing arguments -;)
    You indeed specified the conditions -;) And the dagger argument is very convincing, so I give-up counting...
  • Options
    -- Last Updated: Mar-27-09 7:39 PM EST --

    I have heard (and also experienced) that an average group pace with breaks etc included tends to be somewhere around 3 to 3.5 mph. no matter what distance is paddled.

    When asked for OUR average cruising pace I always express it in terms of 'moving pace'.

    I could answer the 'Pace' question by averaging out our paddling log books, including trips with 'lilly dippers' and 'speed demons', long lunch breaks and no lunch breaks, paddling into 20mph winds across 4 miles of fetch or paddling with the current on the Mississippi river...but the number given would be subject to too many variables to make it comparable to someone elses numbers.

    Anybody using our paces for comparison should keep in mind that we paddle long boats (a 17.5 ft Prijon Kodiak and an 18 ft Q700.) They should also note the following:

    A: A weekly 20+ mile paddle(flatwater, with minimal breaks) is AVERAGE for us. And,

    B: Our average pace may be on the higher end of the bell curve(there are still a LOT of paddlers in comparable boats who are faster than us)and,

    C: We both participate in long events, ranging from 6 miles (ie. Bogey and Bacall)to 460 miles (Yukon River Quest)

    And finally---while paddling her Prijon Kodiak my wife, Ann, could "chick" most of ya'll {grin} in a race.

    [she is going to punch me in the shoulder when she reads that last line...LOL]

  • pardon me...
    At what SPEED do you cruise. Hope you can sleep now...sheesh!
  • Options
    This week is was 6.02 mph.
    We cruised to third place in our first ever canoe race. We started out at "cruise" pace. Maintained cruise pace until last mile. We really didn't have any sprint left in us. So we picked it up a notch to "hard cruise" pace. But we averaged 6.02 over the thirteen miles and peak speed was 11.5 mph. I am sure that set a personnal record for us both. We stopped paddling only enough to swig some water and fix a glove that would not go back on. Not bad considering we were running against 45 yr old youths. We got punked in the last two miles. Those little babies should have a class of their own.
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