my graduating 18 yo son who has limited kayaking exp. has decided to tackle the connecticut river from…first lake or second lake …;i think there in vermont or new hampshire, near the canadian border;all the way to old saybrook.

he and a friend have been doing the due diligence as to where they have to portage because of dams and such and i can only hope they dont mess up too bad…for his graduation i am buying the kayak and am looking for some really good guidance as to length, style, where too buy and any other useful tips.

i’ve tried to read up and have at least some idea and so far i’ve been told to stay within 60% of the max allowed weight as that will allow for best control…is that right? of the concerns is that i’m told the river has 1 area of class four rapids and maybe 2 or 3 other areas of class 3,is that right?,because of that i thought i should stay 10feet or under but was at a recent canoe and kayak show in collinsville CT and told that some of the longer ones with certain shaped bows could do ok and the suggestion was a 16 footer, for the additional storage and better tracking on all the long areas of the river in between… at kayak store in new jersey a salesperson who was also an avid kayaker said the boat for my son was a ;pryon yukon;…? please help… i love my son

if you’re putting your inexperienced son
in a 16 foot kayak and you’re sending him down class 3 and 4 rapids, you don’t love your son. In all seriousness, he better be portaging those rapids if he doesn’t want to have a very bad day (or worse).

Go with Longer Boat
16 ft length is much beter than 10 ft for CT River. Most of thet trip will be flat water paddling. The extra waterline length and storage will be much appreciated. Plus a 16 ft+ kayak will serve your son much better after the trip.

Also make sure your son’s buddy has a similar kayak. If one is in a 10 footer amd the other 16, they will only be able to move at the slow speed of the smaller boat.

Don’t worry about bears. You should worry much more about boat traffic, especially in the lower parts of the River from about Middletown southward. Not only will there be many hig speed powerboats, but also frequent barges being pushed by tug boats. These things take up a lot of room and have little maneuverability.

portage the cl.3/4

– Last Updated: May-02-08 3:30 PM EST –

there's not much of it, and total agreement with envyabull. Best to time the old saybrook arrival for a thursday or friday, get the Ct. section done during the week. Seen a few tandem canoes do the whole shebang, long yak w/ portages would be fine.Sounds like a great trip.Personally I think a tandem canoe would be a better choice, but I might be a bit biased ;-)

I Agree w/Daggermat

– Last Updated: May-02-08 3:42 PM EST –

Your son will do much better with the longer boat for speed and storage. You also might look at a rudder, just a suggestion as I canoe, due to the wind factor as the river gets wider and into more flatwater. I am not sure about camping on the river but there will be dams to contend with, meaning lots of portages...ummm, my favorite thing to do!! ;-)

Pick up an AMC River Guide for NH/VT, it's one book that covers the two states. Well worth it.

Er..that heading should be I agree with Envyabull!


hey daddio (and DougD)

– Last Updated: May-02-08 4:48 PM EST –

reading dad's other post about what food to bring. I know Doug does a lot of long trips so he could advise a lot better than me, but I'm wondering one thing...can you put a cooler in a kayak? dried foods would still require water to hydrate, and a little stove would be neccesary. I know out paddling the hudson a couple weeks ago, the yakkers(glider, mintjulep, spiritboat et al.) were sipping from little bottles while Aaron and I were in our canoe munching on sandwiches, crackers and drinking hot green tea, ice water, and gatorade.C'mon Doug, let's get these kids in a proper vessel!!;-)

Proper Vessel?
Matt, In this case I would go with a kayak just because it is faster and the winds will effect it less than a canoe. Hell, almost every trip I take it turns into a headwind at some point and in a canoe that is a bear! The Connecticut River gets mighty big the further south ya go and I sure would hate to be out in that with my canoe. You and I are spoiled with these narrow rivers we run! ;0

dadio, looking at the AMC guide the better putin might be in Pittsburg as there is a gorge that can’t be run above this. I’m looking at the old copy of the book as some weasel took off with my new one. From what I’m reading dams are going to be the major PITA with some long portages.

As for food, most of my long trips we pack a lot of freeze dried stuff. It’s come a long way from the old days when we had to suffer through some of the worst stuff you could barely choke down…will never forget or forgive freeze dried eggs! With the river having so many putins/boat ramps and towns dotting its shore getting out and finding a store to re-provision shouldn’t be a problem at all, Mac and Cheese is awful good when you’re hungry, even for breakfast. I can’t say anything about a cooler in a kayak but in my canoe it sure does hold a lot of beers! Water filters are fine for a lot of the rivers I run but I don’t know if I’d want to use it on the Connecticut, probably just have a jug or two of water that I could fill up along the way. You’d be amazed at the generosity of people when you are on a canoe trip.

Now, here is some food for thought. Rolling a kayak! Will your son be able to do this before he heads out? I will publicly admit that in my previous life I owned and paddled 2 kayaks and could never get the hang of it which is why I switched to canoes. It’s a big river and probably the most important skill he’s going to have to know. Just my .02 on that one.


got an article here

– Last Updated: May-02-08 6:36 PM EST –

Looking for a story from a guy in the Hartford Courant a couple years back, Can't find that one but did find this.
Can't wait 'til I retire(or get furloughed) so I can hit some stretch of water for a long time. Furlough may be coming soon, and the sailboats getting launched wednesday ;-).
Notice they didn't do south of enfield ct.. If the boys need some info. on the lower valley (portland to old saybrook), I've done that route by sailboat 40 times(twice a year, spring and fall; man does time fly) and can help out if needed with local info. There is a state campground by Selden Creek, about 8 miles from Old Saybrook. Couple islands in the glastonbury-essex area too.
Doug, you soloing, right? Aaron and I tandemed a couple weeks ago(kind of a once a year thing) and such a difference on flatwater in the big boat. Kept up with the sea kayaks no problem. A couple years back a bunch of college kids (Dartmouth?) showed up in Saybrook in about 6 or 8 canoes. Came down from Cow Hampshih, said they had a great time.

I’ve done
The entire length of the river in CT by sea kayak below the Enfield Dam. Mostly flatwater from the bottom of the rapids below the dam to the mouth. You can get some good waves on the lower section from Haddam Meadows on down, but it’s no big deal.

Selden Island has good camping, and permits are easy to get ahead of time. You can commando camp in a lot of places along the way, just be careful where you do it – lotsa unsavory characters hang out near several of the boat launches after dark, so it’s best to find secluded spots, and you’ll be fine.

PORTAGE THE ENFIELD DAM !!! I know that people do run it occasionally, but quite a few folks have lost their lives trying. Not worth it.

And don’t swim in Wethersfield Cove – the city of Hartford occasionally dumps raw sewage into it. There are signs at the boat launch there telling you to not even put your hands in the water (At least there were the one and only time I paddled into there). In fact, just avoid it.

I know several people who have done the source-to-sea paddle of the river. They all say it’s a great paddle. Hope the guys enjoy it!

Get some training/instruction!!!
What a great way to celebrate graduating from high school! And of course, being 18 and thus immortal and omnipotent, they’ve chosen a pretty ambitious trip.

They should ABSOLUTELY get some instruction and training. There is so much more to a trip like this than meets the eye, and so many ways it could go seriously wrong (i.e. life-threatening). Above and beyond technique, they need good judgement, awareness of all the factors involved (e.g. weather, current, tides, rules of the road, etc etc etc), and a context in which to understand their limitations. In other words, to know what they don’t know and can’t do.

I would recommend hiring an instructor for a couple of days of private instruction tailored to what they want to do. It would probably be a hybrid of the ACA Guide Training combined with some basic kayaking instruction including both moving water (river) and open water (coastal). Around here (coastal Mass/RI) the going rate for a certified instructor is about $350 a day. This would be a flat rate which would be shared among the participants, and I’d recommend you participate, too.

The instructor should be ACA and/or BCU certified preferably at the instructor trainer level. I’m not familiar with the CT cadre of instructors, but Wayne or other CT-based P-net folks could probably recommend some.

I’d also strongly recommend a wilderness first-aid course, preferably paddling-specific. I believe EMS offers these. They are usually 2-day courses and cost around $200-$250 per person.

This could be the best investment you could make towards a successful trip - and beyond.

Good luck!


Steve Grant from the Hartford Courant
newspaper did in 1998 or 1999… Mind you he had to bring electronics. He paddled a canoe …mostly solo I recall.

Not at all a dangerous trip with a little judgment…

This trip has been done many times…in both directions.