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24 hours of paddling (or the longest day trip)


Oct 27, 2020
As I mentioned in another thread I am fundraising for Movember again this year. Last year I paddled 60 kilometers every week in recognition of the 60 men globally who lose their lives to suicide every hour.
That got me thinking about how many people we lose every day, and somehow the thought of paddling for 24 consecutive hours got into my mind. I have for quite a while considered how nice it would be to paddle over 100kms in a day, as tipping into triple digits just seems nice. Of course if one uses nautical miles it would still be double digits so it's an arbitrary goal. But then again, aren't most goals arbitrary to some degree?

When I originally conceptualized paddling for 24 hours I was thinking it could be a group event, with various other team members joining for part of the paddle. Perhaps held at a local lake where we could have a nice hot tent set up with hot chocolate and coffee. But as there wasn't much uptake among the staff to participate on Movember this year I thought I had better do something solo.

In another thread I asked the forum about the longest members had spent in a kayak. I knew it was possible but wanted a bit of reassurance perhaps. Alex chimed in and I think that was what really crystalized my resolve to do this. I've always admired his ambitious trips.

As if to encourage me further a few conditions lined up perfectly: a few days off from work, a full moon, and very light winds in the forecast.
So with my gear packed I set off just a few minutes after 7am from the ferry causeway in Tsawassen. It's become a regular departure point for my trips across the Strait.

When I first crossed the Strait I commented that I didn't think I would want to do it again. This was my fourth time. It's a nice enough paddle, but does give me a bit of a sensation that I'm playing in traffic.


In any case listening to vessel traffic on the VHF radio and generally obeying the principle that everything else has the Right of WEIGHT, I made it across without any issues.
There were some humpbacks near Saturna island, though at a bit of a distance.


As I glanced to my right after looking at them for a few minutes I saw a dark shape which I initially thought was a seabird stretching its wings. But a moment later that shape rose vertically and I realized I had been looking at a whale's tail, edge on. That was quite a bit closer than I was expecting, perhaps 50 meters away. I elected to leave them to their breakfast and pop through Boat Passage before having one of my own.


I had put some consideration into food for the day, opting for simple, convenient food. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, homemade beef jerky, and apples made up the majority of my solid food. To keep energy levels and hydration topped up I worked my way through a hydration bladder filled with Gatorade throughout the day.


The conditions were very calm, with a gentle headwind at times, never more than say 13 knots. Once I made it beyond the area near Active Pass I knew I would largely be clear of vessel traffic.
I took one last look at the sun then headed up along the coast of Saltspring.


As I reached Walker Hook the sun was setting so I took the opportunity to stop briefly and have a few more snacks, put on a buff and a toque, and fire up an audiobook. Bundled up and feeling optimistic I set out again.


Due to the full moon and a consistent layer of low cloud, everything was very dimly illuminated in a diffuse glow. The water was grey, as was the sky, but land and rocks had enough contrast to avoid. I could not have asked for better conditions.
Though I was unable to take photos that show it, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of bioluminescence I witnessed. In a few areas I had a consistent blue glow along the top of my kayak's wake for minutes at a time.
At this point I was thinking maybe I should do this again in summertime.

The hours ticked by gradually, with a consistent paddle stroke cadence focusing mainly on efficiency and conservation of energy.
Early in the morning I heard a whale blow from very close. I didn't see where it was, but the booming noise was in great contrast to the otherwise silent environment.

At about 2:30am I checked out Dodd Narrows and finding the conditions manageable popped through and suddenly felt I was in another world. Lights and noises and a general feeling of the world slowly waking up.


I had a few hours to kill before my scheduled end for the day and so went on a little tour around Newcastle and Protection islands.

Just after 7am I pulled ashore, 24 hours and 6 minutes of continuous seat time. Much to my delight my legs were not much worse for wear after so long. I attribute this to an untested change I made to my kayak right before I left. I removed the seat pad, exposing the smooth fibreglass of the seat pan. I think this low friction allowed me to have better hip rotation and thus keep things alive below the waist.

My total distance was 118 kilometers, none of which I was able to use the sail I brought along. My app records moving time as 22 hours and 34 minutes, meaning that for every hour I spent about 6 minutes stopped -grabbing food, taking pictures, filling the pee-bottle...

Fantastic trip, I dont think I have exceeded 4 hours straight paddling at any time. Any stretches, exercises, varying paddling technique, etc. to keep some variety?
Periodically I would stretch forward as far as I could, or plant my blade against the side of the kayak and twist my upper body. But generally I just kept I consistent. I used my Cyprus the whole time.

I had tweaked my back a few days before this trip, a recurring thing in my life, so I did take some pain killers throughout the paddle. Nothing major, just some Tylenol. I actually feel like my body got more damage done during the 14 hours of sleep that followed this trip!
Awesome trip! A very impressive feat, one that not many could repeat. I certainly couldn’t — too long in the cockpit and I’m in agony. Your route was also an aesthetic one, showcasing the variety on offer in our local waters. Well done!