Open water passage

Submitted by tomcoates on Sun, 07/28/2019 - 16:29

Has anyone ever had a kayaking trip where you were out of sight from land for a few hours? I was seeing what it takes to make a passage between the mainland to an island 18 miles away on the Chesapeake River .



Sun, 07/28/2019 - 18:45

I've never been out of sight of land in my kayak.

If you won't have any visible landmark to guide you, you'll need to paddle by compass bearing.

Some folks find that stimulates sea-sickness, so it would be a good idea to do some practicing before the day of the passage.

This is a low island that you are heading to?


Sun, 07/28/2019 - 22:36

Low island!! Max elevation= 4ft

Looks like there's a 50 ft water tower, so you could probably see the top of that when you are about 10 miles away, on a clear day....

Brian Nystrom

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 09:18

Getting fogged in is a pretty common occurrence on the Maine coast. While navigating is a bit worrisome, the bigger issue is that you can hear lobster boats all around you, but you can't see them until they're really close. That is unnerving, to say the least!

Etienne Muller

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 16:25

If you are dead reckoning you need to consider speed over the water, tidal drift, wind, and so on. Tidal charts, and grilling the locals for information are useful. Also planning for neap tides help.

On a longish crossing you can count on around 4 mph over the water. A fun exercise would be to paddle by dead reckoning for around three hours, then check your position by GPS. This way you can tell if you would have navigated accurately the old fashioned way, but can make the necessary corrections if you are off course, before any error adds a lot of extra distance to your trip.


Wed, 07/31/2019 - 18:09

yes there are a lot of factors that have to be taken into consideration. I would definitely not go with out hand held GPS, paper charts or VHF radio. I will be in training for this trip this year to take a couple of 3 to 5 days trips with land in sight. I did not know there is a water tower, that is a great advantage. other factors that have come to light are maritime traffic of large ships smaller vessels and waves so far out in the middle of the bay.  realistically i think spring or fall of next year i would be ready for this trip. 

thanks for all the input, i want to make sure all my bases are covered


I have not done any serious open water paddling on salt water but it would seem prudent to me (of course it would) to attach a strobe light to the deck and use it if visibility is an issue. The strobe would warn the bigger boats that there is something on the water nearby. 

Robert N(o "T") Pruden


Tue, 08/20/2019 - 08:42

I considered paddling there this spring, it was beyond our abilities. But it looks to be 13 miles, not 18, so that should be shorter. Unless of course you have a specific launch spot in mind! If I recall the big shipping lanes are to the west of the island but of course, small boats can be east of the island.