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Kayaking the Bay of Fundy

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Imagine kayaking the highest tides on earth! Depending on the moon phase, currents can run up to 8 knots (4 metres per second) in areas of the Bay of Fundy. The tides can have a difference of up to 40ft (12 meters) around the Cape Chignecto, with a record of a phenomenal 53 ft (16 metres) in the Minas Basin.

It is said that the flow from the Bay each day equals the combined volume of all the rivers on Earth. While this huge amount of water sloshing back and forth in a 120-mile (200 km) long bay obviously presents the paddler with some challenges, it also makes for a kayaking wonderland in the Cape Chignecto area. The jagged coast has been shaped both by cataclysmic geological events and the power of the tides. Paddle amongst towering cliffs and rock spires, sea caves and arches that you can paddle into or through at high tide, or explore on foot at low. There are numerous cobble pocket beaches and places where waterfalls tumble down the rock faces. The rock faces along the shore are a history in geology, from the red sandstone and conglomerate of Spicer’s Cove at one end of the paddle to grey siltstones near the Cape Chignecto Provincial Park entrance. In between you will paddle along a coastline that at times seem impossible in its geological diversity.

Besides the currents in areas that are best to avoid, as with most paddling destinations the main difficulty will be the wind. When a wind combines with a full flood or ebb tide flowing over submarine shelves or around outcroppings of the shore the paddling environment can quickly turn from a paddling wonderland to a paddling nightmare. The volume of cold water moving up the bay usually creates its own breeze, which is predictable. But like in other parts of Nova Scotia winds can be unpredictable. Be prepared for a quick landing should conditions change unexpectedly. There can also be many days around Cape Chignecto where conditions will remind you of a large calm lake, but areas of the Bay such as Cape d’Or and Cape Split are always dangerous except at slack tide.

The best way to paddle here is to go with a Bay of Fundy experienced paddler or guide, but if you do have good kayaking skills and wish to paddle this incredible area on your own or with your group the best advice I can offer is to ensure that even for a day trip you carry enough gear to allow you to comfortably overnight. The park requires you register and has a fee to camp (no fires). Don’t try to avoid registration, as it can be a valuable safety net.

Written by  Werner Ostermann.

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Beautiful Shots, wish I was there!


KAYAK Okanagan & Kootenay BC Canada

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