Hudson Bay

Hey everyone, I was wondering if anyone has kayaked Hudson Bay. I’m really interested in doing a self guided kayak trip on Hudson Bay. I was looking for a 2 week trip and kayaking around a 100-150 miles. I haven’t been able to find a lot of information on the internet pertaining to kayaking Hudson Bay. If anyone has any insight on kayaking Hudson Bay, let me know. Thanks

I haven’t done it
But saw a report on TV about a fellow who paddled upper Hudsons Bay in a kayak with a sail rig. I also know a few canoeists who have ventured out for 2-3 day trips connecting their down river with a village .

BUT, unless you are extremely experienced with cold temperatures, mile wide mudflats (exposed between you and land at low tide, having to paddle so far out that you cannot see land, high tides (sometime in excess of 40’), erratic compass readings, and best of all Polar Bears, the general concensus is DON"T DO IT.

Best wishes if you do, and what part of the Bay do you planon paddling?

Canoe Frontier
Give a call or email to ‘Canoe Frontier’ up in Pickle Lake, Ontario. They regularly fly-in folks to The area as well as have experience running trips all over that area of Ontario. We used them for our drop-off/pick-up flights on the Pipestone River and they are great, knowledgeable folks. They also have connections along the Bay with the local (I believe) Ojibaway tribes. You can do a trip w/them or simply use them for your flight in and out. I think they would be a great wealth of info for you… give them a call and good luck!

less expensive access Hudsons Bay
The Polar Bear Express train to Churchill from Winnipeg.

there are 2 books
you should read before you think about venturing onto the Bay.One is Paddle to the arctic by Don Starkel,and the other is Kabloona in the yellow kayak by Victoria Jason.From what I understand of the Bay,your chances of survival are slim to none(expert=slim,non expert=none.)

A relatively inexpensive alternative,with lots of wilderness and solitude would be to circumnavigate Lake Winnipeg.


have you met Don?
I understand he lives in your neck of the woods. I have read both of those books and also the one about his Paddle to the Amazon with his son.

Don strikes me as a guy who has boundless enthusiasm for his paddling projects with the verve and nerve to keep going against seemingly impossible odds. He paid dearly for his arctic adventure…

hudson bay
The glaciers went through there and created them about 10,000 year ago. The bottom is a lot of rounded rocks and the TIDES ARE BIG! Like some of the other posters said and to add a bit more. An old article by AL Kessleheim about 1975’ish(?) they paddled it and were often stranded MILES FROM SHORE. The tides go out soooooo far and quickly. Starkell mentions them going out a hundred yards in a matter of minutes and IF you happend to be OUT then you begin to start POUNDING your hull on the bolders that begin to come out of no where. I think you can imagine the picture. Its doable but few do it for reason.

Then now imagine this scenary. Your boat is grounded out 1/2 mile from shore. It happens to be midnight so you just sleep in the boat till the tide comes in in 8 hours. Well in the meantime a storm and wind picks up. Now your out there and the tide comes in but since there are big waves added to the scene you are now getting pounded by the waves, shallows/boulders etc. YOu descide to drag your boat towards shore to keep it from getting smashed but its too much work so you just get back in and let the tide bring you up above the boulders. WHat a night! Shall we do it again the next day? I think you get the picture.


hudson bay paddling
I’ve paddled from both the mouth of the Pontax and the mouth of the Broadback to Waskaganish (old Fort Rupert) Quebec on James Bay. We were often 2 kilometers from shore to reach deep water. As mentioned before, tides go out so quick it’s easy to get stranded. The bottom is sand and muck, with scattered bolders which makes paddling in shallow water nearly impossible too. Once the water is deep big waves are an issue, even on a clear day. I’ve only paddled about 50 km on the bay so my experience is limited. I have friends who’ve paddled from Hanna Bay to Moosonee (about 80 km) and experienced great difficulty. One last thing to remember is that you’ll have a terrible time finding places to camp!

hudson and james bay
I also thought about doing a trip here, but decided against it mainly for the tidal mudflat regions. I would still love to do a trip in northern quebec, or maybe even baffin island or some place like that. But it will be a while, newfoundland is still on the list too.

Fresh Water
I’ve paddled the Moose River to Moosoneee. We experienced tides on the river long before we arrived in Moosoneee. James Bay was probably 2 days away when we first encounter the affects. We were told to stock up on fresh water above the last set of rapids. Unfortunately we were delayed by strong winds and I ran out of fresh water. The Moose is mildly salty, even at low tide. I strongly suspect you will have a hard time finding fresh water along your route.

Good reads
Prompted by a suggestion on this thread, I ordered both the Jason and the Starkell books from the local library. I have finished the first and am well into the second. What is interesting about these two books is that they are accounts of the same expedition by its two team members, and it is clear that they really did not get along at all. Accusations and counter-accusations tie these two books together. It turns out to be a real he-said/she-said, so it’s fun to read them both back to back.

What they agree on, however, is the tremendous difficulty of paddling Hudson Bay. From Jason’s account: ‘Kayaking on the Hudson Bay is definitely best suited to lunatics. I would strongly discourage anyone from attempting it. It was only by sheer luck and the grace of God that we squeaked through’ (p. 95).

They have endless accounts (and one very good photo in Starkell’s book) of the huge tidal flats (up to 10 miles wide) that kept them paddling 12 hours a day. When they left the flats behind, they had to contend with being chased by swimming polar bears (and they had no gun).

They also put in 30-, 40-, and even 50- mile days. Amazing.

hudson bay–kayaking
While I have not kayaked Hudson Bay, I did a canoe trip there in '78. Paddled from Great Whale River to Richmond Gulf (and beyond…)This is about a 90 or 100 mile stretch. About half of it is protected by off-shore islands. While the coast is rockey, there were sandy beaches for landing from time to time. What makes this interesting is that once you get into Richmond Gulf, you have a beautiful water mass to paddle around. 20 inches of tide in the gulf and beautiful scenery and protection (for the most part) from the wind. Good fishing in the streams entering the gulf. We flew into Great Whale River from the south but today you can drive up the LG2 road and from there take a smaller flight in. My guess is that you can still arrange support/shuttle services with the local inuit at Great Whale River.

We paddles in early july. Weather was not very forgiving–I think we had a bad year. But, with ice floes, beluga whales, cariboo, and assorted other fauna, it was a delightful experience. It took us 5 paddling days to make the trip into the gulf with 4 days of impossible winds to pin us down. Bring a gas stove–very little useable wood to burn along the coast. A wet suit is a must–water temps in low 30’s. Air temps 30-50.

One more voice
against paddling the bay. Even though I hate to be the naysayer. Even though it annoys me when everyone decides what I am doing is a bad idea . . . I suspect paddling on Hudson Bay is a bad idea (at least the MB part).

There is very little relief, so any vertical tide will be greatly exagerated horizontally.

There is mud, which will make moving extrordinarily difficult.

There is cold water, which will cause the predictable problems with judgement, co-ordination, breathing etc.).

Finally (and maybe the least of your worries) there is the largest predator on the continent, one of very few which routinely stalks people.

I don’t know if you canoe, but there are several river trips that end on the bay. One is even acessible by rail at both ends. Northern Soul is a good Canoe Outfitter out of Winnipeg.

In Cliff Jacobson’s book
Expedition Canoeing there is some advice from an expert wilderness paddler, Fred Gaskin, who strongely says not to paddle the Bay. “…The fact is that canoeing on James and Hudson Bay is extremly dangerous. If you want chilling accounts of those who didn’t make it, contact the Canadian Mounted Police in Churchill or Moosonee. … On the first trip we paddled the Bay and nearly had a deadly accident. At one point we were 2 miles from shore in very shallow water when a squall came up – we were belted by huge waves and three giant waterspouts all at once!

…James Bay, and parts of Hudson Bay are very shallow so you can’t paddle close to shore. Your’e in big trouble if your a 1/2 mile out and a storm blows up!”