How far or hard is

a paddle of 18 km up to 30 km? I know it depends upon conditions, type of boat, skill etc. Let me explain. I am in my mid 50s and have enjoyed recreational kayaking at my lake and on a local river. I would like to sign up for some organized day trips such as a tour on the St. Lawrence among the 1000 islands. I enjoy paddling, play other sports and work out 3 times a week. My concern is will I have the stamina for such trips as I do not know how long these distances take. Also are these trips usually booked by younger age groups? Any thoughts or advice is appreciated. Thank you.

30km= 18.75 mi = 16.30 knots
I’d guess your group will paddle at about 3 knots average at best (if it’s a club gig, or commercial tour). That’s an easy pace in almost any kayak. Don’t let the gear freaks scare you on that…facts are at those speeds there’s very little difference in effort between shorter and longer boats. So, the issue will be comfort and ability to sustain a reasonable effort. You’re looking at about six hours to cover 30 km. Assuming you’re reasonably healthy you should have fun. The shorter trip should be no problem. Have fun!

It’s all about training
If you want to do such a trip, I would encourage you to both train and do the trip. By gradually increasing the number of miles/kilometers, you would be ready in no time.

From another 50’s

– Last Updated: Apr-28-07 8:28 PM EST –

Except I think I beat you - 55. I'd suggest that you start with a shorter trip for a couple of reasons. One is that it'll be less likely to leave you with any overuse issues. I am guessing from your post that you haven't taken a lot of forward stroke classes or the like, and on a tour like this you could find yourself in the open fighting wind for a portion of it as well. If you haven't worked on form and hit a bunch of wind even on a shorter trip, you might find some body part really objecting afterwards.

The other reason is that, at least until you get by the first trip, you won't have personal experience to know how this group handles overall pace, length of breaks etc. While most people in decent shape can tolerate 10-12 miles and not have their arms falling off, that last six miles to 18 and change is like the diff between 25 and 45 plus miles on a road bike. It's just a smidge beyond what most people can do comfortably without having conditioned for it, so minor diff's on overall pace and length and frequency of breaks can make a huge diff in how easy it is.

paddling 18m. in one day???
it would be like walking ten miles or riding a bike 80 miles. No problem, er,unless you’d never done it in which case it would probably be excruciating if you had no training for it. You must mean distance over a few days as I could not imagine an outfitter putting together a 18mi trip for one day as a package trip.

If a seasoned group maybe
We’ve done that length as a day paddle, an adhoc group of 6, and as suggested it was after enough paddling to be ready for it. Even with favorable wind and current all the way it was a noticeable haul by the time we had to lift boats back at the beach. Was thinking that kevlar would have been awfully nice.

Above the reson I suggested starting shorter if someone doesn’t know the outfitter - it is possible that these longer lengths are for groups where they can assume a slightly quicker pace and better ability to paddle against wind than the average tour group.

One slight correction
30km= 18.75 mi = 16.30 NAUTICAL MILES not knots.

A knot is a measure of speed, the same way that MPH (miles per hour) is a measure of speed.

1 knot- 1 nautical mile per hour.

Sorry Salty, just couldn’t resist. As a captain, I’m sure you knew the answer.

outfitter trips?
I’m surprised there’s an outfitter able to market long trips like that. Usually folks who can paddle those distances are doing it on their own or with acquaintances. A business would have 100 customers going six miles for every one able to go 18.

Agreed, but
Thousand Islands is also a paddling destination. So maybe they can put these groups together in season. Wouldn’t be surprised if most participants had their own boats tho’.

Unless it’s moving with current.
I did 30 miles as a little skinny boyscout on a fast river.

have you asked the outfitter how the trips are organized? Pace they expect to maintain? Rest stops? Experience level?

Buy or borrow a gps. Measure your normal paddle distance on your local lake/river. This will give you a starting point.

18km = 11 miles.

30km = 18.6 miles

Go out and paddle. Increase the distance paddled by about 5% each week (to avoid overuse injuries) Until you are doing the longest distance of 18 miles.

Try to hit the lake on windy days so you know how fatigued you get paddling into the wind.

after you take your trip Let us know how it went.

Bill Reitzer-Smith

How far do you paddle now?
As others have said - you need to work up to this. How far do you paddle now? Over what time frame? With how many breaks?

I’m almost 45 and a good 40 lbs overweight. Typical weekend warrior type paddler - no regular training, just get out once a week if I’m lucky. I typically paddle anywhere form 6 to 10 miles per outing (down from 10-15), sometimes 15, sometimes more.

I have an 18 mile loop I paddle several times a year. I do it non-stop - in under 3 1/2 hours - consistently. I’ve had few takers to accompany me at that pace (which is not particularly impressive) - and doing it slower makes it MUCH harder for me.

Longer paddles are not for everybody (and some would think 18 short). As already mentioned, that last 6 miles can be a bear. Knowing you have an hour or more left to go - 2 hours+ at group pace - when you’re already exhausted, blistered, and borderline injured is like a mini-hell. Distance is largely mental. Having done similar distances before is a great mental edge.

18 miles is no big deal if you’ve worked up to it, AND have your kayak and other gear set up for these sorts of distance. What’s comfy for a few miles can really suck when you get over 10 miles and/or set a more aerobic pace. This is not the time to be breaking in new gear or finding out your clothes rub you raw. People who do more distance seem to have less cushy seats, low or no backbands vs. high back seats, etc. In a word: Spartan (look at race boat/surf ski cockpits). They also tend to have favorite/tested paddling clothing.

I like ticking off miles. On a paddle that distance I want to “Git 'ER done!” though. No stopping, chatting, picnicking, etc. I’m no racer, but typical “group pace” drive me nuts. I can’t maintain even my poor version of good form at that pace. A slow pace leaves me VERY sore next day. A faster pace does not. My kayak is set up for paddling, not sitting/drifting.

In a nutshell, I’d say don’t do 18 unless you can consistently do at least 10-12. Having done 15 or more would be beneficial. These paddles will work out the gear kinks, get you used to the energy demands, and get your head OK with paddling through some discomfort. Do this right and you may not have any discomfort.

Oh yeah, one last thing: Food and drink.

Get a big hydration pack. You want to be able to sip frequently - not have to stop for water breaks. Dehydration sneaks quickly up over extended exertions - even at mild pace. Even minor levels will rob your strength and set you up for injury. By the time you feel thirsty, it’s likely gone too far. Anything over 3 hours - bring food. Quick snacks that are easy to digest and keep settled. Body will need carbs. If there are stops for lunch - choose wisely there too as that food will be sitting in you stomach much of the afternoon…

I do know the answer
Do you hold a license?

For goodness sake
Just do it…

someones a little touchy. Maybe if you’re licensed anything you say MUST be correct…cuz you’re licensed right? Reminds me of the “degreed folks who can’t spell” threads.

gotta agree with you

– Last Updated: Apr-29-07 6:54 AM EST –

there, Salty. Lots of the following. "How do I sit, where do I sit, what do I wear, what boat do I buy, what paddle to use???" Then there's 50 responses running the entire range of possible answers.My personal experience....some days after work I paddle 2 hours and go nowhere,some days I paddle 2 hours and go 10 miles. Usually I paddle 4 hours on the weekends and cover the same distance.


– Last Updated: Apr-29-07 7:20 AM EST –

I appluad you for asking the question rather than just showing up for an advertised 18 miler and them slowing down the group plus not enjoying it yourself.

I agree with much of the advice above, including the comment by Greyak: "I like ticking off miles. On a paddle that distance I want to "Git 'ER done!"

The issue is that, unless you are with a very disciplined group (unlikely--not impossible, but unlikely), then you will usually be with people that wish to stretch out the 18 miles, paddle and talk and cartop slowly and eat a leisurely lunch. But, alas, you cannot control the group.

I think part of your question might be "what does it feel like to do that distance". I can tell you, from doing it routinely and typically with a healthy partner of age 58 yo (I'm 42), it feels like a long paddle, but not a killer. It is a long, steady slogging paddle (on flatwater, this is). Remember, expedition paddlers (not weekend joes like us, admittedly) can log 30 miles daily, day-after-day! So 12-18 miles is really minor in perspective.

I have two additional pieces of advice to the great info from all the above posters:

1. Strive for boat and clothing comfort in your training trips. Outfit that boat. Minicell the thigh and knee pads, add a great back support, study the ideal paddle for distances (not your biggest bladed, most aggressive paddle), a nice seat cushion, and plenty of layers for clothing comfort. The time to study comfort is not when you are out on the water with the "one-size fits none" touring kayak cockpit, a numb butt, and heel sores from ill-fitting foot pegs. Absolute comfort becomes even more crucial during a long paddle. Hell, I'd say that it just might be the absolute #1 rate limiting step. So, lick it early.

2. Drink plenty, and I mean plenty, of water or your favorite Gatorade-type drink. Again, I agree with greyak here. Do not wait until you are thirsty. Drink 8 ounces every 20-30 minutes, no longer. So, bring the hydration. Without it, you will feel sapped, and not understand why. Thirst will not strike you, just fatigue--mental and physical. Drink, drink, drink on a timed schedule.

I'll leave you with this thoght: remember, you can alwways leave the group and cut the paddle short, regardless. Likely, you'll have company when you declare it a "Thanks, guys, I'm going back to the put-in" day.

It’s all in fun

– Last Updated: Apr-29-07 10:05 AM EST –

Internet doesn't translate that sometimes. He is technically correct, but some of us are dumb and need to shorten things, thus knots to keep it simple. Nautical Miles is just to hard to say eh..

mm hmm
Good stuff.

Prep yourself by getting some distances in. If you’re like most of us, your pace solo will be a bit faster than when in a group.

It sounds like you’re reasonably fit, so if you test yourself beforehand then the worst that should happen is that you’ll be sore and exhausted at the end of the day.

I’m a mere 57 if you are in fact

– Last Updated: Apr-29-07 12:16 PM EST –

referring to me in the fourth paragraph of the above post Cooldoc.

Cdneh- pace yourself; and to the extent you can rotate your torso, you should be able to paddle greater distances than you otherwise would. Be comfortable in your yak as mentioned above.