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Paddling times and distances

Discussion in 'Campfire Chatter , including questions and mistake' started by Lee Schneidermann, Oct 26, 2008.


How far can I expect to travel per day (in miles or kilometers)on a downstream float.

  1. 5 miles

    0 vote(s)
  2. 10 miles

    1 vote(s)
  3. 15 miles

    3 vote(s)
  4. less than 5 miles

    0 vote(s)
  1. Lee Schneidermann

    Lee Schneidermann Well-Known Member

    Just curious what an "average" distance a person could expect to cover on a per-day basis in a canoe or kayak.
    I'm looking ahead (in years) at a Mississippi Headwaters to Gulf of Mexico trip.
    I'm thinking of doing it in sections over time, as time allows.

    So let's see what you guys think would be a reasonable distance to expect.

    I can already see that this'll be an easy hijack!

  2. dangermouse01

    dangermouse01 Well-Known Member

    Seems that my GPS usually says that my "average moving speed" is in the range of 2.0-3.2 MPH. More often right about the middle there. That range is a pretty good paddle all day, get from one place to my next place pace for me and the trips I do.
    When we plan our Everglades paddles we usually look at campsites between 11-16 miles apart. We dont have to bust our hump to get to the next site, and can enjoy the time being out there.
    But then again, when we mention to some people that we are taking 8-9 days to paddle about 100 miles from Chokoluskee to Flamingo, the response we get from them is "but you can paddle that in 4 days".
    To each their own.

  3. oldsparkey

    oldsparkey Well-Known Member

    I will not Hi-Jack it....... Some one else will but not me. :D

    As much as it will scare some folks , 10 or 20 miles in the Sea Kayak I have is about the norm.... I would round it out to 15 on flat water , less against the flow and more with it for a days paddling. It is one easy paddling and lots of covering the distance critter. :D

    Now in a Canoe ..... I would say about 10 to 20 with the flow , could be pushed going from can't to can't. Can't see in the morning to can't see at night.
    Balancing it out about mid range , say 15 during the day without any breaks. :evil: Especially with this new one from Jem I made ( the 14 x30 ) it is one swift Canoe. Personally .. I do not get in a hurry , just sort of go with the flow and enjoy life and the area.

    There are a lot of variables in this question.... The boat , it's weight , length , width . the load in it , the paddlers ability , how many breaks , lunch on the bank or snacks while on the water.

    A racer would cover a lot more water , a Geezer , just enjoying life , a lot less , really a lot less. Especially with stopping sooner and starting later with all sorts of breaks in between.

    As Mike said...... In the Glades the chickees are about 10 miles or in that area ....apart , some a little more.. Same thing in the Okefenokee and they make for a easy day paddle between them. Upon arriving there is time to set up camp and enjoy a beverage and life before dark , same thing in the morning , out after a good meal and a hot beverage.

    I would say it all boils down to the paddler and his boat and what they can or want to do in a day. A good water flow under you with the wind to your back ..... Watch out for the guys with the radar units in the speed zones. :D

  4. oldsparkey

    oldsparkey Well-Known Member

    Something folks forget about....... :oops:

    When paddling you have to have the craft moving faster then the flow of the water to have control over the boat , without doing that you are at the mercy of the river.

    That is a confusing way of saying .. if you are going down river and the flow is 3 mph then you have to be doing 3.plus mph to control the boat , which would be some easy but distance covering paddling. :roll:

    The factor is what is the flow of the river you intend to paddle use that to adjust your speed and distance. Factor in how hard you intend to paddle , easy just over the flow or a mad man style. Providing you are going down stream. :wink:

    Rounding out the figures for paddling ...... Let's say your normal paddling speed is 2 mph on flat water ... The river is flowing at 3 mph.... between you paddling at normal speed and the river ... 5 mph.

    SEE ... where I'm going with this. A 10 mile (normal easy 5 hour day of actual paddling on flat water ) can become a 25 mile day on the river.

  5. a Bald Cypress

    a Bald Cypress Well-Known Member


    One thing you don't want to forget is. You are talking about a multi day, even weeks, trip. Sure, you can do 20 -25 miles a day to start. BUT, after a couple of days the aches and pains start to show up and slow you down. Maby even stop ya cold depending on how bad they are.

    Were it me, I would figure 10 miles a day and be thankful for anything over that.

    Get a couple of days distance in the bank and you can take a rest day or if required a weather day without ruining your set schedule.
  6. Lee Schneidermann

    Lee Schneidermann Well-Known Member

    Re: P

  7. oldyaker

    oldyaker Well-Known Member

    When I was younger, in my mid 40's, we did a Canadian trip in canoes and the the best day was 20 miles. This was mostly flat water. A 20 mile day was a hard and long day. I couldn't do that today.

    Now, I have a local river (canoe) I do fairly often and I do about a 14 mile trip in about 7-8 hours, depending on how long I stop on breaks to stretch the back. This river rolls along at a nice pace so you don't beat water all day, a lot of places it's just steering the boat.

    More often than not I do the 8 mile leg as I like to take my time and stop to fish along the way. Stopping to fish here and there and a lunch it takes about 7-8 hours.

    I believe you to be a lot younger than me and I would say you could do somewhere between 10 to 15 miles a day. A lot factors in like, weather, river condition, how you feel on any particular day.

    I read a book a few years ago about four women who paddled the Yukon River one summer. I think they did roughly 2,000 miles in about 2 1/2 months. This was back in the 80's when they did this trip. Good read. I believe they did over 20 miles a day. BUT! They had daylight almost 24 hours a day. They also took turns sleeping and steering.
    Yukon Wild: The Adventures of Four Women Who Paddled 2,000 Miles Through America's Last Frontier by Beth Johnson.
  8. oldsparkey

    oldsparkey Well-Known Member


    You left out the part about them doing a lot of paddling in the nude and refilling there glasses with everclear ( an alcohol item) as the paddled along. :lol:

  9. oldyaker

    oldyaker Well-Known Member

    Yes Lee.....Chuckles is correct.....I left out the part about them paddling in the nude on the Yukon.......I also left out the part about Chuckles paddling the Buffalo River in Arkansas in the buff! :shock: :shock: :roll:
    Insert theme mucic from the movie "Jaws" here.... :?

  10. nobucks

    nobucks Well-Known Member

    Figuring that you're in good shape, I would expect well over 15 miles paddling with the current on a river in a sea kayak. Don't know about a canoe. When we paddled the headwaters of the Mississippi in our tandem kayak 20 - 25 miles downstream we had no trouble hitting and maintaining 6 and 7 mph and we managed sustained sprints of 8 or 9 mph.

    With a steady speed of 6 mph, and a 5 minute rest stop every hour, that would be ~44 miles for an 8 hour paddling day. Subtract if you take an hour for lunch. But, realistically, you could maintain 6 mph in a tandem with no problem and paddle from dawn till dusk with a one hour lunch and 5 minute breaks and do some serious mileage.

    On flat water with a sea kayak 15 miles is easily doable, more if you're in good shape and have a tail wind. A friend of mine who circumnavigated Ireland in a sea kayak in 2007 averaged 20 miles per day on the ocean.

    In the Apostle Islands, I was in pretty good shape, along with my two friends who hadn't trained much for the trip and we had no problems with 15 miles in a day, including a noon starting time and two weather rest stops, paddling until sunset.

    If you're doing a multi-day trip, you may find yourself dragging after a few days if you haven't been training. If you're doing a multi-week trip, I would expect to see a rebound in performance after the first week as you get in better shape. And, again, on a flat river, with a current to help you, you're not going to have as many paddling related aches and pains as you would if you have to make all the mileage with your own paddle strokes.
  11. oldsparkey

    oldsparkey Well-Known Member

    I don't know to much , am not the brightest light bulb in the pack and have been said to be a card short of a full deck so bear with me on this thought. :roll:

    A weight lifter does not start with the 250 pound weights but with something lighter. A long distant runner starts out with short distances and eventually works up to the desire goal. Neither of them start at there goal but at less and works up to there goal.
    Why not do the same with paddling , especially if you have not paddled long distances in the past. Don't start with having to do X number of miles but only the ones that are comfortable and work up from there.

    There are bugs to be worked out , both with the boat , the gear and the persons or yourself. Use that time to do a shorter , comfortable , distance , working the bugs out , getting acclimated to the trip , paddling and the (I hate this word ) routine of the trip.

    Before you know it you get the feel for the river , the boat , the paddling , setting up camp , preparing the meals and are able to go all day without any adverse effects. All of of it just slips into a grove and becomes commonplace or normal. Chances are the distance paddled each day will become greater and easier as the time on the river passes on. :D

    Personally for me it use to be , the 1st day on the water it was ... Go For It. The 2nd day .. things are slowed down and from the 3rd day on everything increases and is easier.

    Now days ........the 1st day , it is take it easy , the 2nd day a little more and the 3rd day ... go for it.

    "O" Well .. :roll: .. that information and $.50 won't even get you a cup of Coffee. See , like I said at the top , not the brightest and now you even found out that I am also cheap. Anyone else would of said a buck. :lol:

    This might help you...... http://www.neilbank.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1136 Then click on the link in aub77 post.

    PS. Going all the way down to Cajun Country , a picture of some Gumbo on the bow might be a good incentive as you paddle along/down the mighty Miss. Each stroke gets you that much closer to that Gumbo.
  12. tx river rat

    tx river rat Well-Known Member

    I have done 25 miles in a day ,but I cant on a consistent day to day basis.
    There are so many factors that affect the miles traveled and how hard you have to work to achieve them, one in my country is shallow water,can really slow you down and puts more strain on you , there is no relaxing in shallow swift water.
    Wind is my biggest concern and it can cut your miles covered in a day in half easily, and wear you to a frazzle.
    The last factor is set up of camp and camp comfort , if it takes you an hour to set up and an hour to break camp that is several miles a day plus the energy expended .
    Sleep if you are not comfortable it might be ok for a night or two but after that you go to bed tired and wake up tired.
    Lot of things affect a multi day paddle
  13. nobucks

    nobucks Well-Known Member


    Ron brings up a good point too.

    If you're paddling from the Headwaters of the Mississippi expect to do a lot of walking, following the boat with a line. The first day we were on the River we walked five miles due to shallow rapids, deep enough to float our kayak, too shallow to float with us in the kayak. :?

    The second day we were in the marsh, where the not-yet-mighty River breaks into about a dozen little channels, and finally comes back together about half way through the marsh.


    We skidded the kayaks through the tall grass to skip a few loops and whorls of the River, and then let 'em float until the River became deep enough to float us again.


    So, first day on the Mississippi we did ten miles (half of that on foot) and the second day we did fifteen miles (five of those on foot).

    When we got back, everyone asked us: "Did you walk across the Mississippi?"

    Answer: "Yeah, about two hundred times!"

    Here's the link to our travel log:

    [​IMG] Sorry, hope I didn't jack the thread!
  14. jdupre'

    jdupre' Well-Known Member

    Nobucks, it's odd to see THAT little trickle called the Mississippi. I'm used to thinking of the Mississippi as being 3/4 mile wide and deep enough to float a large cargo ship. Nice to see where it all begins.

    Lee, I think if you figure on 3 mph over the speed of the current for every hour paddled( maybe 4mph if you have a real speedy kayak), you would be close. Of course, you have to figure in rest stops, meals, sightseeing, etc.

  15. john the pom

    john the pom Well-Known Member

    Can't claim to have done a multi day trip yet, but one is on the cards soon. Of all the posts on this topic I think I like Mouse's best 'specially the bit that said:
    Now it might well be that someone may enjoy pushing their body/boat etc to their limits. IMHO we get out there to get a way from the pace of workaday life. I reckon ya gotta take it all in and to do this slow is more. An ancient and very wise Australian philosopher once said: " Feel the serenity". In a perfect world we'd all spend a lot more time on the water than we are able to. It's not like driving to work.
  16. hairymick

    hairymick Well-Known Member

    I think a lot depends on where one paddles and what the prevailing conditions are.

    15 miles with tidal or current assistence is easily doable in allmost any paddle craft in a day providing one is not punching a strong headwind.

    Without tide or currant assistance and/or strong wind, 3 knots is achievable in most craft and is an easy cruise speed in the better ones.

    This makes for 5 hours paddling to cover 15 miles Add in a few comfort and meal breaks allows for an easy 8 hours on the water and this would be enough for most paddlers. is enough for me anyway.

    John, you ever thought of "doing" the Bribie (Pumicestone) passage mate? say from Caloundra down to your place or the other way?

    I would be keen to do that one anytime you feel so inclined. :D Could do it in a real easy 3 days or we could stretch it to 5 if you prefer.

    I think a 5 day trip down there would qualify as geezer warp speed but if we really tried, we could stretch it out to 7. Good fishin & crabbin along the way. 8)

    http://www.ehmp.org/FileLibrary/pumices ... ap_pdf.pdf

    http://www.ehmp.org/pumicestone_passage ... tuary.html
  17. tx river rat

    tx river rat Well-Known Member

    One more thing river flow (curent is not constant)
    In the narrow shallow parts you may have a fast current , then hit a wide deep pool that has next to none also eddys wherethe water is actually going up river. Mph of current just depends on where you are on thhat river so speed is affected the same way.
  18. bearridge

    bearridge Well-Known Member

    Friend Lee,

    I have chewed the fat with a heap a fellas who paddled the Big Muddy. I read Joel's tale 'n have tole folks I would meet 'em when they git down ta where the Arkansaw 'n White Rivers join up with the Father of Waters. Some of 'em made 50 mile days. After St. Louie, it picks up a heap a steam. In the spring it moves so fast ya gotta keep a keen eye out. When yer in it, ya dont know how fast yer movin' cuz it iz so dang big. Most of the time it seems like yer on a big lake, but when yer comin' up on somethin', ya see jest how fast that water iz movin'.


    ps In the spring, be careful not ta round a bend 'n end up in the middle of the river tween a upstream tow 'n a downstream tow. One of 'em called the river law 'n word got back ta my other wife. I didnt have my life saver on either. Four 10,000 hp engines make a heap a waves when they pass by ya on either side. I wont do that agin in a canoe....only in a sit upon. I reckon I will wear a life saver.

    I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else. Lily Tomlin
  19. Lee Schneidermann

    Lee Schneidermann Well-Known Member

    You guys are bloody brilliant!

    This is great! The links to the other travelers have been great reading.
    I've spent enough time on the 'sip along Iowa's border the feel comfortable from the Twin Cities to St. Louis.
    It was the Headwaters to Minneapolis I was really concerned with.
    Mick, it sounds like you're gettin' a hankerin' for a bit of a "float-about" yourself! Good luck on getting out this summer.
    Thanks to all who've taken the time to post on this one. :wink:

  20. john the pom

    john the pom Well-Known Member

    :D Mick said:

    Sounds like a plan to me. Yep, have thought about it quite a bit, was probly gonna be an unsociable sod and sneak off an just do it in the next coupla month or so. Well either that one or the Noosa river thing but this would be a simpler first attempt.
    Probly not possible in next couple of weeks, but we could nut out something soonish. I know of five proper camp sites but they're all so close together they just don't make sense. Or did you have in mind to just set up camp wherever looked good?

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