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Wind threshold

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Whatever mother nature can throw at me wind is the worst. Wind can make padding impossible, even life at camp miserable.

You can’t avoid it entirely so any wind <10 mph I figure is as good as it gets. 10-15mph and wind direction becomes critical. 20+ mph and I seriously consider canceling, especially if solo.

I’ve long learned to make peace with other elements such as a cold, rain, etc. But not wind. I cannot do anything except fight it and thats not a successful philosophy when dealing with the outdoors.

What’s some of your personal wind thresholds and if you’ve learned to make peace with the wind.
 
It depends on the direction of travel (quartering from aft is worst), tandem or solo, and at what end of the lake I'm at. Based on the description in the Beaufort Scale, I'd say that at 18 mph I start to become uncomfortable.
 
I've spent an entire day paddling in extreme winds where I found multiple recent (and large) blow downs across portage trails and heard more than one tree snap and break in the woods. That day was on a winding river where, while the wind was annoying at times, it did not greatly affect me.

I've also spent 3 days windbound by winds around 20mph that were coming across a 30 mile wide lake where I had no protection and had to make some open water crossings.

So, like Sweetfancymoses said, it depends on the wind direction and where I'm paddling. I'll fight very high winds (as long as I can do so safely) for short periods of time in order to reach a protected shoreline where I can find relief and continue paddling.

I don't really know what the wind speeds are but on 'normal' sized lakes (less than 2-3 miles in any direction) I'll paddle in small whitecaps. I don't know that I'd call it 'fun' but there is a certain satisfaction that comes from working hard and putting in some miles despite the wind. During the course of a day there will always be respites from even the strongest wind assuming there are multiple small lakes and portages involved and those are wonderful periods of rest, relaxation, and quiet before being buffeted again.

I tend to get bored quickly in camp unless there is walking and exploration available (not very common where I would normally canoe trip) so I prefer to be on the water if possible, even if it is windy.

Camp is nearly always made with the wind in mind. I try to find somewhere protected.

If I'm at home I'll only day paddle if the wind is light. I have other enjoyable things I can do. On a trip I have no choice except to deal with what I'm given.

Alan
 
The most out of control I've ever been in a canoe is when I was solo paddling an interconnected lake in Maine in a highly rockered whitewater canoe (Millbrook ME). The wind was blowing in my direction of travel, thankfully, but I could not keep the canoe straight. I ended up being blown sideways down the length of the lake while balancing on a brace in the whitecapping waves.

The only sure-fire way I've discovered to make wind go away is to bring a sail. I once bought a WindPaddle sail and tried to use it about eight times. Six of those times, the wind died completely down at the put-in, making the sail useless for the day. I sold that sail to @Mason a few years ago and have noticed there have been no hurricanes in Montana since then.

Like everyone else, I simply go to shore when too much wind starts up. Also, on the longer trips in my life, I have always preferred river trips to lake trips for a variety of reasons—one of them being the relative lack of wind problems.
 
In 2018, on an Allagash trip, I was caught on the leeward side of Umsaskis Lake and had to walk our canoes in waist deep water, all the way around the southern edge of the Lake, until we could get back to the river:
DSCF6786.JPG

The worst I ever got caught was on Chesuncook:
I've been burned on Chesuncook. Twenty-one years ago, I was a young man who didn't know any better and we were a big group, setting out across the lake from the Village, having just snacked on some of their legendary fudge. We were "supposed to" camp on Gero island but never should have left shore given how the wind was coming up. About halfway across, canoes started swamping and we did our best to tee rescue one another until we were all too swamped to help anymore. Thankfully, someone from the village had their eyes on us and came out in a power boat to save us, one boat after the next. The calamity divided our group on each side of the lake, with half of us camped on Gero Island for the night and the rest back at the village with tents pitched on someone's front lawn. I lost my own bag of personal clothing and did the rest of the trip (through Chamberlain, Telos and Webster Brook to Mattagamon) with little more than the shirt on my back and a few precious borrowed items. Learned more than a few lessons that day!
 
In late April 1984 a buddy and I entered the USFS Sylvania Recreation Area in the UP of Michigan at the north end of Clark Lake, a lake about 2.5 miles long running north/south. It was uncommonly warm that day in the 70’s. The lake had just gone ice free and was covered in a heavy fog. We were starting a 3 day trip.

As we started paddling a breeze picked up which cleared the fog. Due to the warm and humid weather we were wearing jeans and t-shirts. Within a few minutes the wind continued to grow stronger blowing almost straight at us as we paddled southward. Within a few more minutes the wind became very strong with us paddling into mounting waves. We soon dropped to our knees and decided we shouldn’t try to make for shore fearing we would capsize. As we paddled with all our might we began to ship water just behind the bow seat. My canoe was an OT Tripper with a lot of depth so we grew more fearful by the minute as more water entered the canoe. With great effort we finally made the lee of a peninsula about 2/3’s down the lake.

Assessing our situation we decided to camp at a different location than we had planned. We portaged east into the south end of Crooked Lake and took a campsite protected by a hill just to the south. As we set up camp we marveled at the continued very strong southerly winds. Throughout the rest of the day we heard and observed large trees coming down, wondering how safe our campsite was. As my buddy was making a cup of instant soup at one end of a short picnic table I was at the other end. As I stood there I noticed the ground at the base of a large hemlock seemed to be moving up and down. At first I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I noticed the bark on the tree was separating exposing the inner wood. Then it dawned on me, “run Scott run” I shouted. We both cleared the area of the table and within 2-3 seconds the tree crashed on the table crushing it along with my Sierra cup and Scott’s Peak One stove. Additionally, my 10x12 nylon tarp was destroyed by the tree.

We marveled at our close call. The rest of the day occasional trees continued to blow down. That night we pondered the odds of another tree coming down on our tent which was just 15-20 feet from the downed tree.
Saturday morning we awoke to continued strong winds which continued all day. We hiked out to the entrance station where our car was parked and moved it away from any trees. We hiked out to the county highway and found the entrance road to be blocked in several places by downed trees. At the county road we flagged down some passing locals who told us no one from the USFS was on duty again until Monday morning.

On Sunday we awoke to clear skies and no wind. We paddled out and used a folding saw and hatched to cut our way out to the highway. Stopping for breakfast we learned a tornado had touched down about 10 miles south of our location killing one person.

Neither of us had a camera but here is my flattened Sierra cup.image.jpg
 
Been thinking more about how much wind is too much as it humbles us most every trip. I think it depends on load, hull, & direction as it can be your best friend or worst adversary. I recall once anticipating a trajectory across a big body of water expecting to skirt one side of an island near the middle however no matter how hard we corrected we blew full speed into it as if we were trying to split it in two. Must've looked rediculous from Skylab if anyone was watching. This particular boat was a streamlined, fast, tripper. I do belive my new boat/hull would've been easier to correct.
 
That was a close call there Jdeerfoot.
Jim
Yes it was. Our mistake while driving in was probably failing to listen to the radio. The weather during the last couple of hours while driving in was real funky - periodic torrential downpours, temperatures in the 70’s and periods of absolute calm. Real strange especially for the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the early spring.
 
Wind is probably the weather factor I worry about the most. Not so much when I am paddling with experienced folks that know when to stay on shore and how to best deal with wind if we didn't and it caught us, but especially when I may be leading a trip (even a day trip) with beginner paddlers who may not have the skill to take on those 20+mph conditions. I've had my share of wind battles with experienced folks on lakes such as Moosehead, Chesuncook and Champlain. It is easier to deal with in loaded canoes...so leading day trips with no camping loads with folks having a wide range of skill levels can be fun sometimes during the Adirondack trips I do so often. On multiday trips I try to get as many wind forecasts as I can in order to assist with route planning, especially if we have to traverse big lakes. It's like solving a puzzle. Which side of the lake will be best? Where do we want to camp? What are the route options? Are there islands to hide behind?

You get what you get once you're on the water, but a little preparation and planning goes a long way.
 
I haven't done any long canoe trips. When I paddle locally I generally choose days with no more than a gentle breeze.
I would have to review my logs to find the highest breeze I have sailed in a canoe. For certain I can say that twice it was too much, once completely capsizing in cold water and once splitting a seam in the hull.
I do remember the sea breeze overpowering us when I was young, we sometimes needed assistance to get back to the yard.
 
Wind can be a problem. No one seems to have mentioned fetch. Large bodies of water are much worse because waves build up over long distances. I will never forget leading a trip of 8 to BWCA in 1985. We were young and in shape but it took all we had to paddle Basswood Lake in high winds. We used the lee of islands when possible. It felt like 30 with higher gusts, but was probably in the 20s most of the time.

I have been blown off Lake Tahoe lots of times and surfed to shore.
On a winter trip on lower Colorado River in Feb, we had some strong winds but consistent current to help over come. One night the wind was the highest I have ever camped in. I flattened my dome tent so the poles did not break. The sand blew over the top of me and my dog. The next day was a little better but 30-50 so we just stayed put and did not travel.
 
When I'm on a solo trip I rarely have a deadline to deal with so I have a fairly low tolerance for wind, If my InReach tells me that I will be facing 20kmph (13mph) or more (headwind) the following day I declare a layover day if I'll be on lakes for most of the day, I will tolerate a bit more for rivers. When I'm paddling in a group they almost always have a tight schedule so I have fewer options.

I do not see the point in battling winds all day just to cover 10 or 15km when I can wait and cover that same distance comfortably in 2+ hours after a sleepathon layover. There are exceptions of course, some days I just feel like punishing myself for the "fun" of it! The longest I have probably waited for things to calm down is 3 days.
 
Whatever mother nature can throw at me wind is the worst. Wind can make padding impossible, even life at camp miserable.

You can’t avoid it entirely so any wind <10 mph I figure is as good as it gets. 10-15mph and wind direction becomes critical. 20+ mph and I seriously consider canceling, especially if solo.

I’ve long learned to make peace with other elements such as a cold, rain, etc. But not wind. I cannot do anything except fight it and thats not a successful philosophy when dealing with the outdoors.

What’s some of your personal wind thresholds and if you’ve learned to make peace with the wind.
I’m good with those categories. 20 mph not good for BBQ either. Can’t think of anything that level is good for. Part of the reason I went to the NS Magic for tripping is it’s easier to handle in a breeze. I used a Prism for years but it caught a lot of air.
 
For certain I can say that twice it was too much, once completely capsizing in cold water and once splitting a seam in the hull.
I have a lot of fears about wind, but having a boat break up under me wasn't one of them! What type of material was it? Was it bridging waves that did the damage, or what?
 
Canoeing aside, wind just makes me irritable - I hate it.

On a trip, a steady wind is one thing - not less dangerous - but it's there and you can account for it unless it appears out of nowhere. What I really dislike is what I call "black water" - that tight shimmer from a very localized gust that seams to squirm its way across the lake. I've been hit by that crap more than once and given relatively calm conditions otherwise, it can be an unpleasant surprise. If I see it coming I stop and brace for it.
 
Chesuncook is synonamous with witch
Can be good and can be evil

No idea how I did it but I paddled between Gero Island and Allagash Gateway with a 20 mph south wind. Fetch there is about 14 miles. Its worse if the wind is from the north and funnels down all 27 miles of the lake.
 
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