Rec kayaks ok around Hopewell Rocks in Bay of Fundy?

Hi, new here. We’re planning our east coast road trip this August. We’re bringing our two Pelican rec kayaks with us because one week we’re staying on a small lake. Any concerns about using these around the Hopewell Rocks, or is it recommended only to use sea kayaks?

Based on this: “The waters of the North Atlantic ocean are cold – seldom exceeding 7/8C (44/46F) even at the height of summer. The Bay of Fundy takes in this chilled volume twice a day, maintaining a relatively constant water temperature.” taken from

I think the general consensus will be that a Rec Kayak like you say is a terrible boat for those waters, and if anything at all goes wrong, likely lethal in well under 30 minutes. Also, there are pretty decent currents -
“The tide moves 105 cubic km or 3.5 million cubic feet of water in and out of the Bay of Fundy. This water moves in a relative mass, having only a 24-minute difference between high tide at the mouth of the Bay at Long Island and high tide at Cape Chignecto. The current created by the tide is of roughly equal strength at all depths as well as across the surface. Measurements taken at the midway point of both depth and width of the bay at the half flood point of the tide showed current speeds to be 4.5km/h”

At almost 2.8mph, you would never be able to paddle against the current in a rec boat and you will be taken wherever the current wants. I bet you top out around 4-5mph at full effort. So again, these boats have no place here.

I would strongly suggest if you want to go out, you go with an outfitter with proper kayaks and cold water gear. Rec kayaks have no place in freezing cold, big water like the BoF. Cold water and strong tides combined demand great respect, as small problems are amplified 1000x and going from paddling happily to dying of hypothermia is only ~20 minutes away at any point.

beautiful area though, should be a great time!

Thanks MCImes, yes that was what I was thinking after reading more. We’re novices (obviously, with our Costco boats!) and it’s been fine since we only paddle quiet inland lakes and rivers. The challenge will be to convince hubby that he’s not omnipotent, lol. We paddled around a cove off Lake Superior last summer, then headed to the mouth to see how far we’d get. I turned back pretty quick, the waves were very rough and coming at an angle that I couldn’t face them head on. When I turned back it was like surfing back where I started from. Of course hubby went further out, determined to get to the next cove. He came back eventually, didn’t make it there. I fully expected to see just his kayak floating back. Not worth the risk when we have neither the equipment nor the experience.
There is an outfitter that does paddles around the Hopewell Rocks with tandem sea kayaks, I’m more inclined to go with them.
Thanks again, I’ve been poking around the forums and am eager to keep learning more.

When I read your initial question I was fearing that you “already knew the answer”, and that answer was that they’d be fine.

I’m relieved to see your second comment. I’ve been to Fundy and taken part in the Bay of Fundy Sea Kayaking Symposium. Given this place has the highest tides in the world, it’s not a place you want to be tempting fate - especially not in rec boats.

Convince your husband to go with a guide. Leave your boats at home. I don’t know how far you’d be carrying the Pelicans, but the improved fuel mileage and reduced hassle might pay for your few hours kayaking with someone who knows the area and in a more suitable craft.

Good to hear!

Not to bead a dead horse, but the most dangerous stage of any activity is when ‘you dont know what you dont know’, so risks may be either justified, minimized, or unrealized (in this case, the risk of hypothermia and/or drowning due to cold water) In any case, whether its superior or the bay of fundy, I think your time with an outfitter would be much more fun, productive, and certainly more safe!

If you need to convince your husband not to go out in cold water, on your quiet small lake, please have him paddle close to shore but in 7’ of water. then capsize. not a nice planned capsize, but pretend that the weather and waves are rough so its an uncontrolled capsize that fills the boat 50% or more with water. Then have him get back in the boat (from the water as if you’re a mile out) and paddle it around the lake, or pump it out while you violently rock it side to side (to simulate waves).

I would bet 1000000:1 he cannot reenter, and if he does the boat is unmanageable due to the thousands of pounds of water in it.

The 'best practice’with rec kayaks is never go further than you can swim to shore since in-water recovery is nearly impossible, even for experienced folks. Cold water in the low 40’s means you are unlikely to swim more than a few hundred feet at best before your limbs are incapacitated by cold shock, and that does not account for current or wind.

I love Maine, Quebec, and the entire extreme northeast. You’ll have a great time, just dont let the cold water ruin an otherwise good time

and keep paddling :slight_smile:

We are there. Bay of Fundy
We have sea kayaks
However not knowing the full effects of tides in this area we opted not to go forth We stayed on shore and watched all day. Glad we did. With a tidal range of 20 feet the nice protected bay and beach we want to launch from dried up half a kilometer away We are here a week and will go out Sun and Mon as winds and the tides will be more favorable to avoiding wading through 500 meters of mud
We studied charts to olsn how to avoid tidal rips and asked boatmen here about danger zones
If you are new to an area wait look and ask
We have the time If you don’ t go with a guided trip
You will learn lots about the area also
If you plan on paddling your rec boats in Canada be aware there is sone safety equipment you must have
Bailer that moves a liter or more
15 m throw line (in a throw bag)

Thanks all. @Sparky961 I think I did already know the answer when I posted, but it wasn’t that it would be ok - I was pretty sure it would not be a good idea and was really looking for the voices of experience to throw back at hubby. @MCImes, we do as a practice stick close to shore, for the reasons you mentioned but also because that’s where the interesting sights are! Thankfully hubby didn’t take much convincing that going with a guide in proper sea kayaks is the way to go. But we will still bring our Pelicans - one of our stays is 5 nights on Mattatall Lake near Wentworth, it just looks too inviting not to! We may also have other opportunities on our road trip and we love to get out for a paddle. But only when the water matches our skill level - we’re inexperienced, not stupid!

Here is a couple of interesting links…………

My wife’s relatives live close to the Bay, and we have some land there, but on the Nova Scotia side. Hopewell Rocks is right up at the northern end of the Bay on the New Brunswick side. At the top of the bay there, the tides reach their highest and lowest points. We take our boats up to Nova Scotia every summer but I wouldn’t want to kayak up there in a rec boat.

Take your kayaks across Nova Scotia to St. Margaret’s Bay, off the Atlantic. The farther away you get from Peggy’s Cove, the calmer the water becomes and it’s much warmer than Fundy. Or, get in touch with East Coast Outfitters in beautiful Lower Prospect and take one of their tours, in their sea kayaks, or with Pleasant Paddling in Lunenburg. We’ve been out with them both and recommend them highly…

You have the right idea. If you don’t follow a bad one, like even get in the boat, odds are you will get the correct conclusion. I know of a case where one spouse cut back their own paddling to avoid encouraging a daredevil partner.

@llitle Be careful of that near shore part if you are in with a bunch of motor boat wakes. They can be more difficult to manage a foot away than 6 feet away from shore.

Just read that you will go the tour route, enjoy! You will learn more about the area than you would on your own. I think tours are an excellent idea that way.

@kfbrady Thanks for the tip re St Margaret’s Bay - we will be doing the obligatory Peggy’s Cove/Lunenberg drive as this trip is for my daughter who was only 2.5 last time we were down that way. It would be a day trip and I wouldn’t have thought about taking the kayaks that day but maybe I’ll work that into the plan now!
@Celia Thanks for the tip re motor boat wakes. I usually paddle about 10-20 feet from shore - far enough to avoid rocks/roots, but close enough to see the flora and fauna. Yes I do like guided tours in general when I’m in a new place, you learn so much more about the area/history!

@kfbrady - looking at the map of St.Margaret’s Bay - do you have any recommendations for where to put in? Ideally a beachy area where one of us can hang out with our dog while the other two go for a paddle.

There aren’t too many beaches around the bay - it’s all granite! - but there is quite a nice one at the top of the bay in Hubbards. It’s called Queensland Beach. That far up the bay the water is pretty quiet, but the area is very beautiful. It would be a great place for one of you to hang out with a dog! Google it for some photos and directions. While it can get crowded on weekends we’ve been there on August weekdays and the beach has been empty.

Further south, on the east side of the bay, you can launch from a small rocky beach at Boutiliers Cove. Turn off Peggy’s Cove Rd when you see the “Finer Diner” restaurant. The bay can be - although it usually isn’t - a big rougher down there but it’s an easy paddle across to Troop Island. You can always find a place to park and unload along Boutiliers Cove Rd.

There is also a rocky beach off Paddy’s Head Rd on Back Cove in Indian Harbour. This is further south again, and while - as I’ve mentioned - the closer you get to Peggy’s Cove the rougher the water can be, the scenery is also more grand and on a calm day it’s a beautiful place to paddle.

The east side is a lot more interesting than the west side.

Oh, and while you’re there go just 5 minutes past Peggy’s Cove to Shaw’s Landing on Prospect Road for the very best fish & chips around!

Great ideas above.
But about that beach part… though there is a sandy one mentioned above, most common for beaches in mideast Maine and up to be rocks with some sand. Bring some sandals to walk in.

One of the more confusing moments I ever had in a training was some years ago out of Bar Harbor. The coach asked us to ID a place to land on a chart. Those of us who knew this part of the coast readily found something that was not a cliff and had a somewhat flat area on the sheltered side on an island. We figured we had it licked until she found most of those ideas no good because the beaches we found were all rocky. As far as we knew there was only one actually sandy beach on any island in the immediate area, and it was not in the direction we were going.

The coach was from Florida. We ended up making do with a beach that had some rocks.

There was an incident later that day involving how to read a channel among all the islands and in and out little harbors around there. But it reminds me of one other thing. Red right returning only works in one direction and there are frequently two entrances to these little harbors. One end will not be red right returning, one end will be, because it is all related to the head of navigation. But that gets complicated.

Just ALWAYS look for the channel markers nearest the land on both sides, to find the channel in the middle. Lobster boats are sometimes coming in on autopilot at the end of the day. They are not going to see you if they are at the stern.

Queensland beach…

The view from the outdoor tables at Shaw’s Landing…

@kfbrady So we were unable to do the hopewell rocks kayak tour, they were booked up for the days we were available. Oh well. We did manage a swim stop at Queensland Beach and dinner at shaw’s landing, thanks for those recommendations!

I’m glad you enjoyed it! My wife and I are up in Nova Scotia right now. We paddled in PEI the week before last, did some around Blue Rocks close to Lunenburg last week and had fish & chips at Shaw’s Landing last Thursday!

@kfbrady We were there Thurs too, around 730-830pm! We were on the patio with our dog.

The French Mastiff?