Long water crossings in canoe

Open water canoeing. Looking into canoeing the inside passage from wrangell ak to Haines ak. I am a proficient paddler but have not paddled Open water as far as some of these crossing require. Some up to 15 miles. I know it has been done and the best way would be to wait out conditions. Any thoughts?g

Its been done in sea kayaks and sea canoes. Never heard of it being done in an open canoe.
I have been to that area but as far as paddling goes only in Glacier Bay NP.
The funnelling of wind is awesome in the Passage. The tides are strong.

You have a lot of scheduling to do as the 15 miles could take four hours timing the tide right or double or triple that.

My furthest was two crossings of 13-14 miles all in the same day on dead flat calm water in the summer with no wind at all… Another of four miles where the wind came up on the ocean was quite unsettling.

I am hoping you are not considering open canoe.

First step : a Sea WInd or the like
Second: train… increasingly longer crossings. Start small.
And plan .Timing counts.


People in BC have a long history of paddling canoes in the salt water. I would suggest a cover at least. You will have to contend with a tidal range of over 20 feet. The water is cold and it rains a lot. There is fog and plenty of large ships, barges and commercial traffic.

There can be a lot of fetch and large waves in salt water. The movement of all of that water between islands, coves and bays twice a day creates some currents, rips and waves that are hard to imagine. You don’t mention you experience paddling in SE AK. It is one of the most dangerous places to paddle on Earth.

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No doubt . Look at the canoes used by the Haida. Specific engineering and some were about 60 feet long for the ocean. In the Great Lakes too volume counts as the Voyageur canoe exemplifies.
Plus they had a lot of mentoring to grow into sea canoeing.

In comparison a normal Canadian Canoe is a completely different craft.

I have extensive sea kayaking experience as well as big wave surfing experience all in the northwest. The passage has been done in an open canoe. I would definitely have a skirt for when needed. But my intent is to hit it when the conditions are perfect and do it without. Spend a lot of time waiting for sure and yes timing the ebb and flood of the tides. I’m debating between a clipper tripper, souris River q17, northwind 17 or a wenohnah. I will definitely scout in a sea kayak prior since I have no doubt I could make that trip with ease. I will be living in Juneau and practicing weekly before trying.

Ten years ago, my friends Harold Deal and Paul Conklin made a crossing of Lake Ontario from south to north with one other open boater, Gary Marble whom I do not know. They paddled Hemlock SRT open canoes and the distance was 41 miles. They made extensive preparations for this event. You can read Paul’s account of the crossing on the Hemlock Canoe website: http://www.hemlockcanoe.com/-ontario-lake-crossing.html

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People with actual ocean canoe knowledge have talked about the appropriate boat and the very obvious dangers so I will focus on other parts.
First, do you live in Alaska or anywhere coastal? There is a lot to learn about conditions specific to a patch of ocean you want to play in. Huge tides up there which make for incredible current. The kind that can pull you miles off shore if you hit them wrong. I would be looking at nautical charts and talking to people who frequent that water, which probably means commercial boats. Talk to the driver, not deckhands. Time of years effects how big the tides are and if AM or PM tides are the biggest tides. You definitely want daytime smaller tides.
Next practice somewhere with very strong tides and where you can make increasingly longer paddles. Have a good dry suit, a radio so you can contact the coast guard, a locator beacon and flares.


I thought that I had seen something similar on YouTube & here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3a4MQh8Vak

Are you going solo or tandem?

Yes I grew up in Seattle. Will be living in Juneau and practicing and scouting by sea kayak for a while first. I am very accustomed to large tide swings whirlpools ebbing tides and boat traffic etc.

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Going to try for both solo and tandom. Yes I’ve seen that. They make it look so easy hahaha

Perfect conditions exist for short periods of time. It is really hard to get accurate forecasts of specific areas in Southeast. a solo canoe is pretty slow, compared to everything else on the those waters. You may be able to see trouble coming but be powerless to get out of the way. I am trying to figure out your motivation to try this sam.

The tides around Seattle are around 5 feet, but the tides around Wrangell can be more like 25 feet. The harbor is empty with boats lying on their sides during low ebbs. It “Sounds” like you might be extrapolating your experience forward and have not lived in Juneau yet. Use some caution matey.

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Definitely will be using lots of caution. I did spend every summer in wrangell growing up with a neighbor who owns a few houses there and have the the extreme tidal change for sure. I plan on spending all next summer training and I’m very aware that I may have to wait out for days on end to Make certain crossings.

Also in Seattle during king tides it swings around 20 ft and we would go surfing on those days because it could creat great surfing conditions. Those rip currents are like rivers and I’m very use to handling them.

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See if you can land a Monarch or a Sea Wind. Lower stems make less windage and the flared shallow hull design makes stability a breeze. I use my Monarch in Maine for 11 mile crossings but there are “rescue:” islands so there are more bail outs than the Inside Passage. We have 24 foot tides and its usually constricted areas that lead to currents. A large tidal range is not always that much of an impediment unless access is impossible at some tides.
The lower you sit the more stability you get. One of the real nice things about the Monarch or Sea Wind is the height adjustable seat.

Traditional canoes with higher stems tend not to be as sea friendly as they catch the wind.
Personally I would pay extreme attention to hull shape in cross section. You want flare as high up as possible . Because Wenonahs are from a racing heritage they tend to have their wide point very low. As seas build this is a negative. I would cross them off the list. They are a good canoe don’t get me wrong but not for your trip.
I don’t know a thing about the cross section of the hull of a Clipper Tripper.
Ted Bell ( Northwind 17 ) has carried shouldered tumblehome from his former Bell boats and the stability in waves is great!
I do have a SR but its a Wilderness 18 and in big open waves empty it is squirrely. It needs a load to steady it. The hull shape is not as tumblehomed as a Northstar canoe.

Kind of curious why you want to do the journey in a canoe! There is joy in single blading for sure which is why I love my Monarch in the ocean. It brings me a lot of room for carrying gear, not much windage and a good mix of tracking and maneuverability.

Just don’t forget when you need to haul lots of gear and hence a big boat skin friction matters

Hey I would lend you mine but you are way out there from me.

Thank you for the advise. Luckily there are some “rescue islands” that break up most of the longer paddles but stopping wouldn’t be my ideal move with fast changing conditions I could see myself stuck a few days on an island :joy:. I am already pretty familiar in the areas of concern between narrow passages in most of the crossings and how to avoid the faster current sections. I will definitely take a look at the monarch. I do like the geometry of the northwind tho. I guess the only reason I have for wanting to canoe the passage is the challenge itself. I also just don’t think sea kayaking is nearly as fun or challenging. Something about the traditional feel of a canoe and how exposed and wild the ride feels. I wouldn’t really be afraid in a sea kayak in any conditions in the passage due to experience. I can handle paddling through 4 foot breaking surf and have never really found my ceiling for chop whirlpools fast currents or big rollers In a sea kayak. But I have lots of fear of attempting to canoe in any real choppy waters due to exposure.

4ft chop and 15 miles of open water? No thanks. Some of you guys and gals are nuts!


Well the Monarch is not worn like a sea kayak… I am not aware of anyone that has rolled it. While spray covers are made for it ( as they are for all canoes) you have the ability to feel free… You can be higher than in a sea kayak,
Plus it has a lot of volume for seaworthiness

Canadians paddle the salt pretty often. One of the common boats for that purpose is the Canadian made Clipper Tripper. A Sawyer 222. A few others.

I’ve looked at clipper. I reallly like those canoes. Great looking boats. As for kruegers idk if I would call it a traditional canoe. More of a kayak hybrid.

paddled with a single blade they are. Too high for a light double blade. And if you double blade they are knuckle rappers.

The Clipper Tripper has the volume but for a soloist one has to ask if one has the horsepower just to overcome the skin friction inherent in sinking the hull that deep into the water ( because you will be carrying fresh water I assume) and how much windage will the freeboard make? One big difference between that and the Sea Etc ( wind monarch) is the latter have flared hulls almost to the top whereas the Tripper seems to narrow a bit. The CT is also quite a bit wider.

That said we have navigated most of Lake Superior in a Wenonah Odyssey. 18’6" handled waves well under a load. It was a good bit more of a butt puckering trip than when we did it in the Monarch ( me) and my hubbys WIlderness System Shenai.