night paddling

It was the last trip of the year in my solo canoe, a few months back, and I was really itching to get out onto the water. The wind was blowing occasional whitecaps on the lake, but I thought if I stayed close to shore it would be calmer, which it was. So I had a very nice trip and the wind blew me right back to the campsite.

Then it got dark and dead calm. The lake called out to me, my wife was in the camper, so I told her Dad where I was going and I took off. I went back out onto the lake. No one was around and the lake was like glass. The moon was full and the stars were bright. This was one of the nicest paddles I’ve ever had.

When I got back, my wife thought I had lost my mind, this was the most dangerous thing she had ever heard of. If I got lost, I would never find my way back and if anything happened no one would ever find my decomposing body. I just can’t understand her point. I didn’t feel I was in danger of becoming lost since I could see the moon and stars (and there was a large yardlight at the landing), and I had a flashlight to signal to any one of the houses on shore.

Was this really a dangerous thing for me to do?

Full moon- lake like glass, sounds awsome, but you should have had her out there with you.

The only danger was if you didn’t have some running lights and you heard a power boat coming.

You can get some that are battery operated at Walmart.



No Twice
I have running lights and I wear a headlamp that blinks, so when a motor boat gets near, I blink them. I have had the strangest reactions from boaters wondering what the heck that is.


Once we had 20+ boats in the middle
of Jocassee on a full moon paddle and heard a motor coming. Our lights went on and the guy immediately killed the motor. We must have looked like a 100 sq yard raft!

I like to get out in the dark as often as I can, during the warmer months. I paddle with a couple of local boys and we quite frequently end our trips in the dark of night. I love it. Have crossed lakes on long trips in the dead of night to beat the winds in that always seem to come up in the a.m. A headlamp or some kind of flashlight is always packed and I’ve always got a few of those glowsticks to hang off my canoe and others with me if need be.

I’m glad you enjoyed yourself!


I enjoy
night paddling and have done it several times, including in Lake Michigan.

With proper preparation, I see little danger in it.

This time of year it’s a little different- if things went completely wrong, chances of being rescued before dying of hypothermia are pretty much non-existant. Even the Coast Guard has put their boats away for the winter. Regardless, I’ll be out this weekend- dressed for immersion of course.

No, Again
Night paddling can be some of the most pleasant paddling that there is.

Happy Paddling,


It was extremely dangerous. If you keep going out paddling and THOROUGHLY enjoying yourself like that, you may become SERIOUSLY ADDICTED to paddling. You may then spend all of your spare time in outdoor physical pursuits instead of sitting around the house, getting fat and watching tv. This could have VERY BAD consequences for drug makers and advertisers as well.

How big’s the lake…
…are we talking Lake Superior or a 2800 Acre lake?

If Superior, then I’d doubt your sanity. If the other, then I’m merely envious.

Sounds like a great paddle. Some of my most memorable paddles have been after dark. Just last year, I was finishing up a long day on Ontario’s French River and had a great time paddling under the stars and a nearly full moon. Set up camp that night on a tiny little rocky island and had a relaxing hot meal under the stars tocap off an incredible day! Night paddling rocks!

Cheers…Joe O’

night paddle
It may be hard to collect on your life insurance without the decomposing body. That would upset anybody’s wife.

ask yourself this
if you did die, would you have died happy. I waited much to long to start paddleing at night.

It is one of the coolest things you can do in a boat, by yourself.

thanks for the responses
I figured that with some precautions I would be just fine. This was Mead Lake in Wisconsin,

320 acres, but more like 160 acres since it’s hourglass shaped. This was mid October.


Lights for night paddling
Frequently, in warm weather, my wife and I pack a picnic supper, go out onto Round Valley Reservoir (in New Jersey) in the late afternoon in our touring kayaks, find a place to land and have supper while watching the sunset and the moonrise, and then paddle in the moonlight for a few hours. However, we use lights on our boats. The following is from my post of September 18 (with a couple of alterations).

My wife and I have been using Guardian lights from We use a red and a green on the bow (or a red on the bow and a green on the stern) and two white lights, one on each side behind the cockpit (where they won’t interfere with night vision). I paid approximately $12 each for these lights. People on fishing boats have told us that they had no difficulty seeing us at 500 yards on a moonlit night (on a really dark night we probably would be visible at a greater distance). These are really small lights that we clip onto our perimeter lines. Hope this information is useful.

The Real Danger
Was the wife. May need to take her out on a good moon-lit evening with a ukulele, show her what the conditions are like.

I too bought
the Guardian lights. Red, Green, and White for port, starboard and stern. They are nice little waterproof led lights. Problem is I have yet to figure out a way to mount them to make them meet the regulations-

“Sidelights must be fixed to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on its respective side”

“Sternlights must show the light 67.5 degrees from right aft on each side of the vessel.”

If the lights are visible outside of this range, another vessel could easily mistake your direction of travel. This creates huge problems when considering “right-of-way”. If there was an accident, the improperly lit boat would automatically be at fault.

Luckly, we have the option of using no navigation lights.