Two questions...

First… a brief background:

Basically, since most of my paddling development has been taking place on solo trips, I am looking for a comparison of where I am versus the touring and workout crowd here on p’net… I’m only into this for around 2y… so please bear with my newbiness…

Yesterday I put out in Kitty Hawk, NC and paddled from one of the interior waterways into Albemarle Sound and Kitty Hawk Bay, stopped at a beach for lunch, and then paddled back. Some open water and channels to cross, which was fun… not to mention the increase of heart rate when you are trying to pick your moment to go around boats and PWC’s.

At worst… little wind waves and whitecaps maybe 2ft cresting across the bow of my kayak (CD Sirocco)… so some texture but nothing huge.

Question 1: The total round trip was 13 miles, GPS tells me I did that in 3:58 with a 20 minute stop for lunch, refill of the water bottles, and to catch my breath on the beach. Wind was from the side both ways, so no big help from surfing… just wondering how my pace rates against you folks who are much more experienced.

Question 2: I’m a little bit stiff today… mostly in the muscles under my shoulder blades and the muscle tissue that runs on either side of my spine. Hands are a little tight also… If my paddling technique is correct, where should I be sore? I realize this question may not be all that straightforward since I’m the one feeling the tightness…

Anyway, this is just an attempt to know where I stand so if I join some of you guys for trips and fun in the future I’ll know if I’m able to keep up and not slow you down.

I had an absolute blast, and came back to the inlet pretty whipped…

All advice and commentary appreciated.

Non-Answer Reply
I have been paddling for about the same length of time and typically paddle in similar types of waters as you wrote about.

It has been my experience that when you are talking about water that has tidal influences and you are subject to chop and wind, then average comparison milage does not apply. I paddle a six mile course a couple of times each week after work. I have made it around the six miles in just less than 1 hour, once, and have taken just shy of three hours. My normal time is about an hour and fourty minutes.

I paddled 21 miles last Saturday and more than half of that was against a stiff breeze and against a medium current. I was pretty beat at the end. If I had paddled the same without wind and without current I am certain that I would have felt much less snackered at the end.

Happy Paddling,



flat water is a better comparison…

– Last Updated: Jul-11-06 9:36 AM EST –

Wind and waves do significantly affect the speed you paddle. It looks like you averaged about 3.5 mph which is the average cruising speed of many kayaking groups. When I'm out paddling distance with my kayaking club, we typically hold around 3.5-4 mph. If I'm paddling with some stronger paddlers, we will hold 4.5-5 mph. If I'm training on my own, it's a little faster but not by much. As for soreness, I'm typically a little sore on my shoulders and a my abs are usually really sore.

Comparing to others
I’ve heard many here mention 2.5 mph as their average touring speed. Some paddle faster, some slower. If you’re really concerned about your speed, just go on a Duckhead trip (float–actually) and you will feel like Greg Barton or Oscar Chalupsky in comparison to the one-mph top speeds that will be achieved by the group. Whenever I paddle with a group, I’m there more for the companionship rather than a workout–those I do alone.

I usually feel a long-distance paddle in my lower back and sometimes shoulders. I weight train about four hours/week to stay in good paddling shape. Stiffness in your hands MAY indicate too tight a grip on the paddle (easy mistake to make in choppy conditions.)

2.5 would drive me nuts…
… and I’m a fat middle aged office worker type guy. Nearly impossible to go that slow and call it “paddling” short of a 25 kt headwind.

“Float” is definitely a a better term for what you describe.

I suppose I could leisurely float out with the tide, and back in, and make a day of it with minimal paddling - but I would also have to spend considerable effort avoiding getting run over.

Think I’ll stick to paddling.

We have a strong group of folks in our club that average 3-4mph on most trips. Your fitness level sounds right on par. You won’t be holding anyone back. Don’t worry about the aches and pains, that’s just to remind you that you’re alive.

If you ever come to Florida, look us up.

For comparison
On a recent trip, loaded boat, (Feathercraft Khatsalano folding kayak) paddled 28 miles in 8 hours, stopping 4 times for breaks and about 1.5 miles of picking my way through the shallows. On a 23 mile crossing, temp near 95 deg, flat water, 5 kt tail wind, 6.5 hrs. Not sore. But stopped every 15-20 minutes to drink. Not really sore muscle wise, just sunburnt lips. After taking a nap for about 2 hrs, paddled another 8-9 miles in 2.5 hrs. During a 22 mile race in 15-20 kt winds that were headwinds most of the time and 1-1.5 kt current that hindered and helped along the course, temp about 90, unladen Khatsalano, 4hrs, 3min. Very sore and tired after.

reference data
5 and 10 mile virtual race ( ) and my old 18 mile cruising speed tests ( can provide you some data for comparison. However, that paddling was done without or with very light load.

Sounds to me like you are …
right on track.

We did a fourteen miler yesterday at our favorite lake with the first six miles at a race training pace (except it was intervals) - between 5.8 and 6.3 MPH.

Then we did the last eight at what we call our “nature watching pace” (checking out the many large pike in the shallows, and exploring the remote coves and the total for the whole day averaged 3.6MPH (moving)

On your second question. A little stiffness here and there just tells me that you are working hard, and with time and miles under your belt, that will go away.

So for what it is worth you sound like could have fun with any group of paddlers.

By the way, was that Kitty Hawk Woods reservation where you put in and paddled out to the sound ?

If so, that is a good place.



Some people paddle faster than others, and I’d say that your pace was fine for most group paddles. It doesn’t necessarily take more muscle to go faster, but good technique can help a lot. Since your arms weren’t tired, it sounds like you’re doing OK but check out the Greg Barton Forward Stroke DVD (or take his class if you get the chance). Even seeing his short lecture at Canoecopia gave me some tips that I feel are improving my effeciency (amount of muscle I put in versus the power that drives the boat).

About 5 Years Experience
Your pace would fit in my little group. Sometimes we go significantly farther, though.

I tend to get some stiffness and pain in the high back/lower neck… not too bad.

"I had an absolute blast"
the rest doesn’t matter.

Bob Perry Road
The boat ramp/recycling center is about 1.5 miles from the Sound through a very nice canal where there were tons of otters and other critters checking me out… then around a point to Kitty Hawk Bay.

The beach where I had lunch was at the access near Windgrass and Tateway roads… very nice indeed.

My only complaint is that a lot of the non-channel water was about 2 feet deep… thick grass to chop through… but hardly a problem :slight_smile:

I’ve been struggling a bit with the monster grip on the paddle, not to mention my driver (which yields a pretty crappy result also).

My hands began to cramp on a long trip a couple of months ago and I really tried to focus on pushing my shoulders through the stroke… helped a lot.

Then… as you say… I get in some chop and start hacking away like Belushi in one of the SNL Samurai skits…

I saw your post about Carolina Beach, but figured that would be a haul for us to hook up from the northern OBX.

I’m here through Saturday… looking at a waveski tomorrow :slight_smile:


– Last Updated: Jul-11-06 7:44 PM EST –

We can't even hook up for a paddle and we live in the same county! That's OK, it's just a matter of time. I may be at Cape Hatteras next year, so who knows. I almost hooked up with markinnc but family kept me busy.

You will learn to relax that grip in time.

Windgrass access
Is that access area open again? Last time I was there it was under re-construction.