View topic - What do you do when you get to the Big Water?

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PostPosted: July 29th, 2020, 11:27 pm 

Joined: March 17th, 2016, 2:10 am
Posts: 134
I have asked before about paddling in James Bay. Basically told it is near impossible. Got a map, and confirmed that it may be near impossible without good knowledge of the tides.

So, for those that paddle down rivers to the Bay, what do you do? How do you get out?

PostPosted: July 30th, 2020, 2:04 am 
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Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 3564
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
My comfort zone for James Bay is about 20km in the tidal zone, anything more than that and I'd been giving serious consideration to a pick up by freighter canoe.

Fortunately many of the best paddling rivers on both sides of James Bay end at or close to communities, on the Quebec side most now have all season road access while on the Ontario side it's air only except for Moosonee.

"What else could I do? I had no trade so I became a peddler" - Lazarus Greenberg 1915

PostPosted: July 30th, 2020, 6:36 am 

Joined: September 11th, 2019, 5:54 pm
Posts: 36
I taught up in Kashechewan at the mouth of the Albany for 4 years. We were in a pickup truck on the winter road on our way to a student winter trapping class on the muskeg 20 km north, up by the(ir) French River, and I asked the driver James, a big man in his 50s whether it was a good idea to paddle in a canoe up the shore of the bay. He looked at me like I was nuts and then told me of a family who went out in their freighter and were never seen again and a hunting party headed to their camp that went missing and they all drowned. He said it's too dangerous out there and that the locals did not go out on the bay, besides, there's no fishing out there. There was also a female polar bear spotted coming up the far shore of the river earlier this week and they went out and shot it. Little native kids look and sound too much like baby seals.

PostPosted: July 31st, 2020, 8:51 am 

Joined: April 30th, 2010, 4:11 pm
Posts: 69
Location: Georgetown, ON
Well, I happen to have two relevant experiences crossing from the mouth of the Partridge River to Ship Sands Island and the Moose River. There are two trip reports in the database that give good advice.
Both times were difficult and amounted to a sprint wherein once the bay is reached, there is no relief until making your destination.

On the first occasion, the timing was not too bad, we arrived at the flats just after high tide and had to wade but not for terribly long in order to reach deeper water. Then we paddled 3km out to get away from the shallows and 11km across open water. There was no sheltered solid ground from the beginning of the marsh delta until reaching the island, so we were in the boats and moving for the entire day. The second half of our party arrived late and spent an entire tidal cycle of 6 hours sitting in the canoes waiting for the water to return. They ended up crossing the bay at dusk, and then in darkness, but made it. They phoned the OPP but all this amounted to, was to give them a status update.

For the second occasion the entire party arrived at the flats together and ahead of the tide. This was much less eventful as we were able to paddle out to open water, then rafted in groups of 5 canoes and sailed to the West using tarps.

Thankfully there was not any stormy weather but the bay was not entirely calm either.

In the specific case of the Partridge River there is a hunting camp near the mouth built on stilts, and apparently some people in Moosenee who are already accustomed to driving freighter boats in there. Therefore it would not be very difficult to arrange a pick up.

For he today that sheds his blood with me. Shall be my brother;

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