Average paddling speed

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by Longwing, Sep 28, 2015.

  1. Longwing

    Longwing Paddler

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    I did some paddling this weekend and found against the wind I was averaging 2.6 MPH. It was a 4 hour paddle to my destination. Is that an average speed or not?

    Longwing
     
  2. pikabike

    pikabike Paddler

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    Re: Avarage paddling speed

    Not enough info! What was the wind speed, which way was the tide flowing, were there lots of crisscrossing boat wakes, what kayak were you paddling, how long a time were you going against the wind, were you hungry thirsty cold tired hot yadayadayada.

    Going against the wind I still average more than 2.6 mph, but I avoid paddling into high wind for prolonged periods in the first place.
     
  3. Peter-CKM

    Peter-CKM Paddler

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    Re: Avarage paddling speed

    If you are in a surf ski or fast sea kayak, that would be slow. In a touring kayak, likely fine. Ina rec boat or white water boat or standard SOT, that would be pretty good.

    In my day touring class boat, when I check with a GPS, I average over a long haul about 3 mph when I factor in the breaks for snacks and the like. If it was a constant headwind, that would slow me down.
     
  4. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Re: Avarage paddling speed

    Depends. Any idea what the wind speed was? Was it a true headwind? Once, against a headwind later estimated from the sea state to be approximately 25 to 30 kts, a buddy and I required 2 hours (me) or 2.5 hours (him) to travel a mile. Under conditions of no wind and little to no current, he consistently could maintain about 3.5 to 4 kts, and I was always trying to catch up! Both boats were high volume, very beamy craft, so if your kayak is better for speed, perhaps you could best these marks.
     
  5. Longwing

    Longwing Paddler

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    Re: Avarage paddling speed

    It was windy and two ft chop on Okanagan lake. Man, I must be out of shape I guess.
     
  6. tiagosantos

    tiagosantos Paddler

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    Re: Avarage paddling speed

    2.6mph = 2.2 knots. For touring boats, I'd bet the average (moving) speed is about 3.5 knots under mostly benign conditions - little wind, no current. So depending on what you were paddling and what you were up against, 2.2 knots could be either very good or just a very leisurely pace.

    I'm realizing lately that your paddling speed is directly proportional to your technique. Fitness and strength play a role, for sure, especially once you speed up to +4kn. At the slower cruising speeds.. If something's hurting, there must be a better way to do it. I haven't perfected the forward stroke, far from it, but the improvements I'm seeing from even a couple hours of proper instruction are really encouraging :)
     
  7. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Re: Avarage paddling speed

    Longwing, No need to beat yourself up. Two foot windwaves, depending on the fetch, probably were genersted by a steady 10 knot wind. The usual estimate figures you lose hull speed to the tune of about one seventh the speed of a true headwind. So 10 รท 7 = 1.4 knots. Add that to your speed in knots and you get: 2.2 + 1.7 = 3.9 knots. You are in the ballpark.

    Pick a sunny, relatively calm day and paddle a mile or so upwind, then reverse to your starting point. Your GPS should tell you the speed made good each way, and then average those.

    The hook is getting from 3.9 to 4.9 -- that is when increasing amounts of effort need be expended for ever smaller increments of improvement. Why? Because each craft has a hull speed, beyond which increasing effort is needed for each 0.1 knot gain. For most 17 ft kayaks, that speed is around 4 to 5 knots, depending on which authority you ask.
     
  8. designer

    designer Paddler

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    Once upon a time, I asked a guide about the required conditioning to participate in an outing. I was told that if I could maintain a speed of 3 knots for 3 hours, I would be welcome on any outing.

    As AstroDave pointed out, the length (and style) of your kayak influences the effort as you approach a theoretical maximum.

    I was paddling with a friend and I had just finished watching a few "performance paddling" DVD's. As we were two guys in two boats, of course a "race" started. I was in a 16 ft Mariner Express. He was in my 17 ft Seda Swift. I was doing everything I knew to do - proper paddle entry, torso rotation, pushing with my foot on the paddle side (still working on the exit so I don't "lift water" with the paddle). And yet he was keeping up with me.

    Later, I asked Matt Bronze (Mariner developer who also sold Seda boats) about that. He said that the hull of the Seda Swift was modeled after Olympic racing boats and he rated it about 5th (fastest) of all the 17 ft boats he's paddled (a lot of boats).

    Given the wind and the chop, I think you did fine.
     
  9. tiagosantos

    tiagosantos Paddler

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    I tried out a K1 racing kayak last night and it was pretty eye opening.. Tippyness aside, it's incredible how quickly you can get to speed. I was nowhere near comfortable enough to do proper stroke technique, but they start moving fast with even the lightest of touches. So like designer and Dave said - it's really hard to know whether a given speed is any good without knowing all the variables.

    Besides, the really important thing is getting to your destination with a big smile. If you're not smiling, you're probably going too fast :D
     
  10. pikabike

    pikabike Paddler

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    That 2 ft chop can be a royal PITA, especially if it is anything other than directly ahead or behind.
     
  11. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Very true. Seem like seas that height have periods such that the crests are separated by a boat length or maybe a little more. Sure can throw you around a lot. OTOH, longer period stuff gives you a break between crests.
     
  12. Longwing

    Longwing Paddler

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    I should also mention I was in a nimbus tekwa loaded. I have since tracked my trip and did the math it looks like I was averaging 2.6 knots on a 4 hour trip. Looks like im going to make some adjustments to my paddle. The length is a concern. I have a 230 bent shaft. I'm going to look into shortening this paddle.

    Longwing
     
  13. Pdx paddler

    Pdx paddler New Member

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    Sorry to dredge up an older topic, but I am about to take my first camping trip out of a sea kayak and wanted everyone's thoughts on the speed of a loaded boat versus an empty boat. Empty I can paddle roughly 3 to 4 knots depending on tide, current, wind etc.

    A recent test paddle (loaded) was educational regarding trim, so please assume the boat is neutrally trimmed. Thankfully I was able to preposition things a few times in order to achieve something that at least felt like it was approaching neutral. What a difference that makes!

    Any other thoughts or suggestions are also welcome!

    Thanks!
    Kathy
     
  14. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    Sometimes faster, sometimes slower but I find that my overall moving average is 3 knots. At the end of 2-3 week trips that's what my GPS tells me. Makes the math really easy.
     
  15. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Kathy:
    First, a big :big_thumb on going out for a test paddle with a loaded boat. Most folks I know (starting with myself) aren't smart enough to do that!
    When I'm travelling with friends, we generally pause right after launch to look at each others boats and comment on whether they look 'balanced'. It's worth taking 10 minutes to go back and shift a load if a boat looks seriously 'out of balance' if you have a long paddle ahead.
    Having to throw in a lot of course correction strokes really takes a lot of energy vs. just straight-ahead paddling.

    After a few tests (and trips) you'll figure out how to load your boat for 'neutral' /bow heavy/stern heavy trim.
    It can be useful to deliberately shift the load if you anticipate a consistent wind condition. For example, having the boat a bit bow-heavy can be useful in headwind conditions, keeping the bow lighter can help the tracking going downwind - this does depend on the boat characteristics/hull shape/skeg/rudder etc..

    There's a lot of really useful advice for kayakers on the Mariner kayaks website (marinerkayaks.com) - time spent there will be well worth your while. Check out the 'Manuals' pull-down at the upper left of the home page. Matt and Cam Broze not only designed and made some great kayaks; they also developed the paddle float and described and explained a lot of other useful paddling ideas.

    From the Mariner Kayaks Paddling Manual:

    When carrying a lot of gear it is usually best to balance it so the load behind the cockpit weighs nearly 2 times as much as the bow load. The room taken up for legs and feet make the bow load about 1-1/2 to 2 times farther from the center of buoyancy than the rear load. Therefore, putting equal weight in each end would sink the bow much more than the stern. The heavier the gear load the greater the percentage of that weight that should be in the stern. A kayak will track straighter and broach less in following seas if stern heavy because the stern keel is deeper in the water than the bow. Weathercocking in side winds is intensified when a kayak is more heavily loaded. Placing the heaviest weight in the rear helps decrease weathercocking. Even with the bow trimmed higher, turning a loaded kayak into a strong wind is not nearly as difficult as turning an empty one can be. The added gear weight prevents the ends from blowing around so easily. It is not necessary to carry a balance scale along with you to pack your boat. Approximations are fine, I just put all the heaviest bags, water, and fuel in the back and the lightest bags forward.
    When loading a kayak, also make an effort to keep the heaviest items, such as water, closer to the cockpit (but behind you) in order to retain as much responsiveness to the paddle as possible. Separate your gear into bags containing compact heavy items and bulkier lightweight stuff. Put the densest items (like water) just behind the cockpit and the less dense bags out towards the ends and in the bow. With a small gear load always fill up any space you are not using for storage with partially inflated float bags to maximize flotation.
    Just before entering any loaded kayak, check to see that it floats on an even keel (side to side) or you will probably discover that it has a penchant for turning towards the high side. Turn over a gear bag or move some heavy items, like water, more to the high side.
     
  16. Pdx paddler

    Pdx paddler New Member

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    Thank you both for the responses.

    And JohnAbercrombie, I really appreciate the link to MarinerKayaks.com. That initial test paddle started out with the gear loaded 50/50 weight wise and ended up with 2/3's of the water in the back. While that felt better, it still didn't feel quite right. As I sort through gear (again) to remove extra weight and more 'stuff' I'll rework it with the pointers you provided. The comments you posted from the website make sense after what I experienced including the small amount of right to left weight shifting - made a big difference.

    Thanks again!
    Kathy