Freshwater supply for saltwater paddling

I am planning on doing some saltwater paddling from Louisianna to New York. For those of you who do saltwater paddling, how hard is it to access streams that are flowing into the gulf/ocean along this route?

Are they generally drinkable with purification, or should I rely on water supply in towns along the way?

Done much Ocean paddling?
Tidewater areas in low terrain can be brackish for miles and miles inland.

I would not drink most of the water flowing into the ocean from any stream except maybe in parts of the PNW or far north New England.

Never been paddling on the sea. I had suspected the water might be contanimated inland. First time for everything though…

a looooong way
along the East Coast, you’d pretty much have to go all the way up to the fall line (where the Piedmont descends into the coastal plains, roughly the path of I-95), to guarantee that the river waters are fresh.

water supply in towns is super easy
for the most part you will pass a coastal town, or at least a house with a spigot every few days (probably a lot more frequently). On long trips along the Gulf or East Coast I never bother bringing anything to purify/filter water - except for emergencies.

You will have to stop and purchase it
going around the Keys there is no fresh water, and then coming up the coast you wouls have to paddle miles and miles inland before you reached water fresh enough to use a filter, (it is all salt water)

Assuming you are coming up the interacoastal water way, you will always be able to purchase it along the way.



An expensive option.

Preparation for your trip?
I’d suggest you find a outfitter that teaches open coastal paddling along the atlantic coast and go out for a visit in October-November so you get taste of what you would be getting into. I’d suggest going on some long 20-30 mile open coast paddles in wind and storm swells with a group, before you encounter those kind of conditions on your own.

Plan water refill stops
The salt mix zone for the Hudson goes as far as Poughkeepsie at the least of times, a whole lot more miles upriver than you want to paddle just to pull some water out. Figure on re-watering stops.

In midcoast Maine
you would have to travel at least as far as the dam in Bangor on the Penobscot River–about 25 miles) before you found fresh water, and even then you shouldn’t drink it—something about mercury contamination from the years of paper mills up river as far as Millinocket—about 80 miles upstrean–

what Celia and JackL suggest is right—make stops at places where you can either buy or beg freshwater.

In Maine most marinas have hoses and a supply of fresh tap water which is potable here—Florida is different–in many parts of the state the tap water is not drinkable and people buy water in stores.

It sounds like you haven’t done a lot of seakayaking–you might want to take a few shorter trips first to determine how the water situation holds out and see how your skill level is vis a vis ocean paddling.

You wouldn’t want to be like the New Hampshire man who decided to paddle the Maine Island Trail a few years ago–

He started in Machias, the eastern terminus, and planned to paddle to Portland, about 350 miles. Thats the reverse of the way most do it as it requires you to paddle into southwest breezes which prevail here in the summertime.

He barely made it to the mouth of the Machias river (about 10 miles) when he had to call his wife to come get him. She called the local sherriff’s department who picked him up on Roque Bluff’s Beach where he had capsized his boat. No real reason to stop the trip as both he and his boat were ok and he had all of his equipment–but he wisely had decided he had bit off more than he could chew. Anyway whatever you decide to do, good luck

alternative hydration source
Saw the link to desalination pump. Very nice for when you need it but $$$$ and an at 4.5 litres per hour and 30 strokes per minute your going to spend a lot of your time pumping and have sore arms.Timo Noko “the professional hobo” made a wind mill from beach junk to pump his for him. Interesting ??? web site check out his home made wet suit/arctic sleeping system!

For emergency hydration supply check this out

Probably not so good if you are planning on needing it but much less $$$$ as an emergency back up.

Also recomend “In to a desert place” by Graham Mackintosh, guy spent 500 days walking the Baja coast line and figured out a bunch of stuff including how to distil sea water efficiently.

plan on carrying
at least six-ten gallons. There will be stretches on Floirdas big bend and in the everglades where it will be a few days to a week before you can resupply.

During the dry seasonin FL (winter), the salinity gradient in tidal streams and rivers moves pretty far upstream. Our local river is brackish for at least twenty miles from the gulf this time of year. There are some rivers that in N. FL that have major springs feeding them, and you could find freshwater much closer to the coast there.

2 litres per day?
My understanding has been it is advised to carry at least 2 litres of water for each day of paddling without refill. I no longer recall where I heard this, but always carry at least 2 litres of fresh water (in addition to the 1.5 in my hydrator) per day when coastal paddling.

four liters
per person per day is a better number for warm weather.

Sounds low
I think you can lose up to around 2 liters an hour during exercise, especially if it is hot and humid.

from the international sports medice institure for a 160 lb person are 80 oz per day if not active and 107 oz per day if you are exercsing moderately. (It is 1/2 or 2/3 oz of water per lb of body weight). Numbers go up for higher activity rate or hot weather.

I do not know anything about this org (found it on line), but the name sounds impressive and the nubers seem reasonable.

Yeah, if I remember …
… a grade-school history lesson, Henry Hudson sailed a long way up that river believing that he had found a passageway to the other side of North America. Seems he was totally unfamiliar with this aspect of rivers.

Just sparked that memory, that’s all.

I have done several salt water/warm
weather expeditions. I carry all my water in bladders (they pack better). I usually carry 5 gallons per person for a week-long trip and plan for refill stops when available, if necessary. I agree that 1 gallon per day is optimal, but I find when I carry that much, I usually bring water home. I probably actually use closer to 2 liters per day. But that’s with no fresh water showers/shampooing and cooking dinner together as a group. You can also save on water by using half-salt and half-fresh for cooking rice and pasta.

so far…
pretty good info. Waves, wind, currents, etc do not bother me so thats not too much of a problem. The plan is to descend the mighty Mississippi river, and work my way back up the east coast, and through the great lakes, and a cross country route through lakes and rivers back to North Dakota. Just kind of getting an idea what the saltwater portion is going to be like. Sounds like I’m carrying my water…

Every marina I’ve been to has free water in big tanks. They’re used to filling water tanks in yachts and stuff. All you need is your water containers. I try to have five gallons, or about a gallon a day in warm weather, and pre-plan my refill stops. Like others have said, there may be long stretches without marinas.

If I were doing this, I’d paddle (or pole) up the Suwannee, portage into the Okeefenokee and then down (the St. Mary?) to the east coast somewhere along the Florida/Georgia border. But then you’d miss the Everglades coast, which is way cool.

By the way, think hard about how you store your water in the Everglades. Raccoons are very good at stealing it while you sleep. We were in canoes, put everything under a canoe and dug the gunwales into the sand about 6". That seemed to work.