Open Canoe English Channel crossing


Myself and two friends are about to attempt solo paddling our open canoes across the English Channel. We are asking fellow paddlers to please consider showing their support by sponsoring us, we are raising funds for our local children’s hospice charity in England.

Please check out

Weather looks good for Friday this week, we shall be launching at daybreak in Folkestone on the south coast of England, accompanied by a cross channel pilot in a support vessel. All being well we will be in France before dark. Whilst my Bell Yellowstone Solo may not have been designed for crossing the open sea it’s proven itself time and again and I have lots of faith in it amongst wind and waves.


can I join you
in my inflatable?

rooting for you
I’ll be rooting for you and watching the website for progress reports.

Can you give us more pictures? Especially on how the boats are outfitted and showing your paddles.

By the way, I don’t think you’re crazy at all, except I just hope you can stand up at the end of it - the picture on the website makes clear you ain’t no spring chickens no more :), and kneeling for 10 hours would just about ruin my knees.

But as far as choice of craft, I also own a Yellowstone and if you have to go open top, I think that’s an excellent choice. That’s a trip where you’d really like to be assured of staying in the boat, and if you are kneeling and carrying sufficient weight, the Yellowstone can handle some very confused waters without risk of turning over and yet still be fast enough to cover some distance in a day. And with airbags you have a decent chance for recovery if you do flip, even in the same turbulent waters and even solo, much more so with potential helpers around. I take mine out on the lower Mississippi River, another environment where you don’t want to flip if you can help it.

I’m curious on your strategy and your estimated crossing time - are there any major tides or currents you have to deal with? I don’t know much about the Channel except I seem to remember the winds usually favor a North passage (Spanish Armada couldn’t turn around) but that there is a slight southerly current? Without tide and current effects, it seems like your Yellowstone could easily beat your estimated 10 hour crossing time. Are there slower boats coming along? Or maybe that’s just the fleet effect of you three staying together and with your support boat.

Anyway, cheers and best of luck to you.

Jester2 , just one idea …
… perhaps bring along a means of adding ballast at will , such as 5 gal. plastic jugs , bags , containers .

You could add or remove water from them at will , for ballast .

May be helpful considering you really won’t know all the sea conditions you may encounter , until you are in them … sometimes a little extra weight goes a long way .

What is it , like 25 miles ?? … have fun !!

21-22 miles best case
Pilotwingz, the narrowest part is 20 miles, but it looks like leaving from Folkestone adds about a mile, plus whatever zigging and zagging they have to do would put the trip at about 21-22 miles, minimum, up to 25 or maybe even more.

I just checked the weather and it’s not looking good for them today - I bet they postpone. Dawn is about an hour away and the forecast is for 12-14 knot (13-16 MPH) winds from the SW and SSW. Since their course is SE, that would make for either broadside waves or a much longer crossing. No fun.

Sunday, though, is predicted to have 4-5 knot winds from the S and SSE. Much nicer.

they do love crossing that channel
Hmm, europeans sure do seem to love crossing the English Channel in novel ways, don’t they?

Just checking Google News to see if our canoer friends made their attempt today. No word there, but there were reports about a man who crossed Sep 28 on a homemade one-man jet-wing. It’s kind of an extended sky-jumping because you can’t take off or land with the thing. Instead, you jump from a plane with it tied on, fire it up and fly a while, then deploy your parachute and land.

Two days later another guy tried to cross the channel on a “pedal-powered blimp”. He didn’t make it, coming down after 17 miles on a 28 mile segment due to contrary winds.

I’m guessing they didn’t …

– Last Updated: Oct-10-08 11:35 PM EST –

........ make the attempt .

Because they haven't followed up with us from their original post "to go" .. and tell us how it went .

But maybe we'll hear more from them soon ??

I was interested anyway .

Good cause. Horrible choice of boat. :slight_smile:

– Last Updated: Oct-11-08 4:40 PM EST –

Twenty miles of bouncing ocean travel in a yellowstone will be a tremendous achievement. I will be curious to see how you feel when you get to finally stretch your legs out on the other side.
I have a Bell wildfire and cannot kneel in it so I sit in a lowered seat. It is a great boat for noodling around on small quickwater but comes up short for me in big open water. I have a spraydeck. A 2 ft tall wave would be on my deck. I take full floatation knowing I will ship water even with the deck. In short steep wind blown chop (15-20kts) I am nervous. Throw in an opposing tidal current and I would be one tense dude. 10 hours of that and I am sure I wouldn't be able to walk right for a while if I made it at all.

I wish you the best of luck and would love to hear how it goes. Be careful.

English Channel crossed in open canoes
In Folkestone on the south coast of England,on the harbour wall at 0600 last Friday morning the wind was already upto about a force 4, the English Channel was covered in white capped waves all day. So we re-scheduled our attempt at paddling across the Channel for yesterday, Sunday 13th.

Launched off a slipway in Folkestone harbour and set off at 0745, light headwind and slight sea state (for the Channel) except crossing The Varne shallows ‘mid-channel’ when shipping water and spray.

At 1715 we beached our three canoes on the shore about a mile west of Wissant, having paddled 23 miles.

Accompanied by a Channel Crossing Association pilot and his trawler, the Viking Princess.

Each of us paddled solo. My Bell Yellowstone Solo did great. Could hardly stand and couldn’t walk out of the water for a few minutes after landing, however, well worth it, fantastic day on the sea. We haven’t found a record of anyone solo paddling the Channel in an entirely open Canadian before, certainly hasn’t been done too often, so we are really pleased to have succeeded.

Very good support has been forthcoming from fellow paddlers who have shown their support by contributing to the work of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices


– Last Updated: Oct-13-08 3:00 PM EST –

Hope you raised awareness and some $$$ for your cause too!

Now, near 10 hours kneeling - that's something -almost makes his under 3.5 hours crossing seem insignif icant ;) ...

Good show
Nice work, glad you made it without mishap.

Congratulations (I think.)
Not sure if you guys a bit mental.

October seems like a dicey time to try that.

You going to post some pics?

photos from channel crossing
If you’d like to see more about this paddle there is a thread on in the general section, its a sticky at the top. Have posted a couple of photos today on there and a blogg with lots more photos and information will follow.

Mid October as a time to paddle, I agree you wouldn’t expect alot of feasible days but we only needed one and the piot had been booked up with swimmers in the Summer. However, our cross channel pilot fell on stairs last Tuesday and was admitted to hospital (our crossing window was Sunday to Thursday, Sunday had been gales and Thursday had looked very promising. New pilot picked up the work but couldn’t go Thursday, (escorting a swimmer across (third attempt and unfortunately unsuccesful)tried for Friday, wind stronger than forecast, so we settled for yesterday. On my top half I had one merino wool base layer and bouyancy aid, it was a warm sun and an almost clear sky.

Congratulations on a successful crossing and I hope you raised a lot of money for an excellent cause.

Thats pretty cool.
Congrats. I expected to hear there was some swimming involved. Glad to hear everything worked out good.

Glad you waited and couple days …
… and still were able to go for it .

That is a pretty long distance to try and keep a reasonable time accomplished . I’m sure the sea offers up it’s own brand of resistence to a paddler , even when it is a nice day .

Did it ever get a little rough ?? … congradulations and thanks for sharing your crossing …

Very impressive.
I don’t have that good of a relationship with my royalex Wildfire / Yellowstone Solo.

There’s no way I could kneel that long in mine.