Paddling the St. Lawrence Seaway
As we approach winter, I am trying to commit to doing more cold weather paddling in order to build a skill set that will set conditions for me to take on trips north or south of the 58th Parallels. In addition to cold weather paddling, I want to end the winter feeling comfortable paddling in rough waters (sea state 4-5) in subfreezing conditions. With my day paddle last year through the ice flow at Black Bay in February and todays day trip in the St. Lawrence, I feel I am off to a good start on this goal. (The real problem I will face this year is that work will take me to Louisiana for all of January.)
Like the Hudson River, you can’t appreciate how big the St. Lawrence Seaway is until you paddle it. Between Alexandria Bay and Clinton, NY, the St. Lawrence is massive; being a couple miles wide and peppered with rocky islands. It being bordered by Canada to the north, one should be weary of accidentally crossing the international boundary as it is patrolled by both U.S. and Canadian Border Patrol and the Coast Guard.
During the summer, a major drawback to this area is how populated it can be. The primitive, untouched shores of the lake systems in the Adirondacks, it is not. The countless summer homes and tons of boat traffic in summer (from jet skis to ocean freighters) can really detract from the beauty of this locale. But in the cold weather off-season, the only boat traffic I saw was a couple of hardcore small boat fisherman and the occasional ocean freighter.
The weather for the paddle was hovering around freezing and would intermittently snow. Despite cold air temps, the water remains relatively warm at around 50 degrees fahrenheit. This allowed for some picturesque wisps of fog to add a scenery. My semi-dry top and bottom with a layer of thin weight poly pros and mid-weight polypro top was more than adequate for this calm paddle. I think I could have also been more than comfortable in my 5/3mm wetsuit (especially if I thought I was actually going to do some wet work.)