Advice on a Long Island (NY) Crossing

My name is James and I am a paddler in California. A friend of mine is doing a crossing of Long Island Sound with Kayak for a Cause and I have some kayak related questions. Hope that you can help.

The first set of questions are about gear. Do you use full wetsuits when you go out to the sound or the Atlantic? I am an ACA instructor in Monterey Bay-CA and because of the year round cold water temperature (low 50s), we use wetsuits year round. But I don’t know what the safety recommendation is for a July crossing.

What about layers and paddling jacket? Are they needed or recommended in the summer for a crossing?

The second set of questions is about conditions. Is it windy in the sound? I don’t have a tide chart but judging from the land shape, I imagine that there’s good current during tidal flows. Is the tide strong?

Also, is it usually windy in the middle of the sound during the middle of the day?

If there are any tips worth noting, please let me know. Your advice is very much appreciated.

You might want to post this on ConnYak…

Although there are a number of very active ConnYak posters on this site, you might want to post this one on the ConnYak site. ConnYak has many very talented/experienced paddlers who can help you out.


Water temps

a shorty at most

– Last Updated: Jun-25-07 6:53 AM EST –

You'll be really warm in a wetsuit in July. I'd wear shorts and a tech top and have layers ready.

There's a current but presumably the organizers planned the crossing around slack so it shouldn't be much more than ~1 knot. I don't know of any predictable wind pattern.


Water Temps in the Sound
Currently are about 70-71. I was in yesterday; a group of us assembled to do some longer mileage along the shoreline on our skis. Two others who showed for the paddle were in sea kayaks, and peeled off to go cross Sound; it’s done fairly regularly, by organized groups and individuals. One rower I know does it every weekend in his banks dory. I’ve never personally done it; I’d rather wind my way amidst the islands with some coastline to look at, but am in the Sound at least once a week.

Depending upon where you go from/to, the mileage is roughly 22 miles, round trip. If the wind is blowing, it can get choppy out there, usually not more than 2-3 foot seas, although there have been days after/preceding a storm front or when it’s really blowing when it’s approached 5-6. There is quite a bit of boat traffic, though, so that kicks up some swell. Coming into the harbors is usually the worst (or most fun, depending upon how you look at it). Yesterday, the high volume of pleasure boat traffic at noon made for a fair amount of confused chop in the Greenwich, CT area. It was extremely calm at 8:30 AM when we started out.

I personally think with July temps, you’d run the risk of overheating in a wetsuit; bring plenty of water. The next few days, for example, will be in the 90s. Maybe carry a windshell folded under the decklines as a safety precaution, JIC. There are so many kayakers that do this event, and sufficient support craft, that ramping up would be fairly easy. Lots of folks do this fundraiser paddle; both neophytes and experienced. Ran into someone at a bicycle group ride one time who was talking about what a great time he had doing it. He had never kayaked before, and on top of that, didn’t swim (This caused me to raise an eyebrow.) If the conditions are not favorable, the organizers or CG will postpone or shut it down. 'Hope your friend has a good time!

Where will the crossing be?
I love how everyone is giving answers when Long Island is 120 miles long. It does matter where you intend to cross.

Normal Route

comfy in the boat
Stretching exercises. Lots of thigh padding to raise but up from seat. I like hands free hydration for races or big water. Out in middle of big water you cannot open water bottle. Check to see hose does not kink. I wrap platypus hose with stiff wire. Perfect practice produces perfect performance. Crossing in a group is smart. I like a full brimmed golf hat or visor under ww helmet. What if you are bald like me and hat blows off? No sun tan lotion on bald head.

Check out their photos
I don’t know the website any more, but last year a co-worker send the link to me.

From the look of it (photos), a bunch of never-ever (but fit and determined) paddlers were able to make it.

The trip is only one way, they put you on the ferry (or a motor boat) to go back to CT. So it’s not that long of a paddle (

July on the Sound is likely to be very hot and humid. I wouldn’t wear a wetsuit or drysuit. This is an organized event - not a survival situation.

As to wind - the weather on the East Coast is different from the West Coast - our’s changes every day. :slight_smile: It is likely to be sunny, very hot, little wind. It is also possible it would be overcast with a fairly strong wind if a storm is around. There is no way to know right now. Generally - expect some wind but probably not something that presents a real struggle, but again - it’s possible to be otherwise.

My thoughts: My first concern would be sun - hydration is key. Second - potential of wind and you’ll know the day before from marine forecasts.

Best advice - get in touch with race organizers, they can tell you everything you need to know.