My first kayak camping trip to Camelot in the 1000 Islands with the Boreal Baffin: Awesome!

Peggy Varner paddling a yellow Boreal Baffin sea kayak on the St. Lawrence River, looking at a cruise ship Photo courtesy of KayakJock

What’s the best part about blogging about my trips?

Every time I take a trip, there are always stories and funny or compelling things that happen along the way.

As I write down the details and try to figure out just what this story is about, I suddenly realize how many people helped me plan my first kayak camping trip to the 1000 Islands in August. And it blows me away!

I did a lot of research. I have seven years of paddling experience, and have been a paddle blogger, publishing the BaffinPaddler for two years. But I still needed lots of resources and experienced paddle buddies to help plan and execute this trip. Kayak camping is not day paddling! You have to be well-prepared and self-sufficient.

My first kayak camping trip was planned from scratch with a simple question to paddle buddies: “Anyone want to kayak camp in the 1000 Islands in the middle of August?”

Ten people initially responded. Eight people showed up to the first planning meeting at a local Ottawa pub – a good choice for group planning meetings – the fun starts here! And four of us made the three-day kayak camping trip to Camelot Island.

And it was great! I would even do it again!

Fear of packing a sea kayak

I am a habitual day paddler. I love day paddles and base camping from accommodations that have hot showers and big soft beds with lots of fluffy pillows.

I admire the trips and experiences of kayak campers. The photos they bring back from their trips are incredible and they always have interesting stories to tell. This is what sea kayaks are really made for – packing up everything you need for survival and fun, and heading out somewhere to set up camp.

I accumulated minimalist kayak camping gear for years. It sat unused in a closet. When I looked at it, I worried about how I would get everything I needed and wanted into a low volume playboat like the Boreal Baffin sea kayak.

Could I do it? Pack the boat and kayak camp with it? The Baffin is a sleek and skinny Greenland style boat designed more for rough water play and rolling, not kayak camping.

Kayak camping was just not for me, I thought. But I had all this kayak camping gear. “What should I do with all this stuff? Sell it or use it?”

The best way to really get to know a kayak is to kayak camp with it!

Last summer, I looked at my awesome, sleek, 17 foot Boreal Baffin sea kayak sitting on the rack in the garage. Since I bought my fibreglass Malestrom Vital 166 last year, I had hardly paddled my Baffin.

I wanted to spend more time with it. Kayak camping with it was the way to go. There is no better way to get to know your sea kayak, or any sea kayak, than to kayak camp with it. The Boreal Baffin is made of polyethylene plastic. It would do better with the rocks!

This story and the links to other resources are here to help make it easier for you to plan and enjoy an awesome kayaking trip in the 1000 Islands too!

Three kayakers paddling the St. Lawrence River in the 1000 Islands

Paddle buddies on the way to Camelot Island. Each taking their own path to the same place!

Thanks to all the great people and organizations who made my first kayak camping trip in the 1000 Islands a great experience:

  • Paddle buddies along on the trip were good company, great navigators, and experienced kayak campers.
  • 1000 Islands Kayaking for maps, advice, and excellent kayaking lessons and navigation courses.
  • St. Lawrence Islands National Park, Parks Canada – for information about the islands, maps, and advice.
  • Clark’s Marina, 323 Clark Drive, Gananoque, Ontario, was a great place to launch from and provided friendly service, information, and low-cost parking. Clark’s Marina is just 2 miles west of Gananoque off Highway 2.

Here’s my list of why I chose the 1000 Islands from Gananoque, Ontario for my first kayak camping experience and what I like about paddling the Admiralty, Fleet, and Navy Island Chains. Sorry it’s so long!

  • There are lots of options for trip planning in the 1000 Islands. I like lots of options!
  • Excellent resources and maps are readily available to help you plan your own paddle route and trip in the 1000 Islands. Or you can contact 1000 Islands Kayaking to take care of all the details for you. Then you can just show up and paddle.
  • It’s beautiful out there!
  • Island hopping is fun! You can go ashore, hike the island trails, get some great shots with your camera, bird watch, have lunch on a dock, in a picnic shelter, on a beach, or on a rock, do some outdoor yoga with awesome waterfront views, visit the outhouse, and swim in the St. Lawrence River in the summer and early fall – but you should always check water temperatures first.
  • The 1000 Islands are a great place to test your navigation skills, but not for beginners. If you aren’t confident with your paddling and navigation skills in big water with lots of islands, busy boat channels, and cruise ship tours in the area, you would be better off to hire an experienced guide.
  • There are no big currents in the Admiralty and Fleet Islands chains, but you have to watch out in parts of the Navy Islands where there is fast water.
  • No bears or poisonous snakes on the islands. But there are racoons. Food can be safely stored in animal boxes that are provided in the picnic shelters on islands where camping is allowed.
  • There are many good places to launch from in Gananoque.
  • You can plan your paddle route to have lots of open water or protected water behind islands when it’s windy.
  • The 1000 Islands let you feel that you are away on an island, but you can still easily paddle “to town”.
  • I love Gananoque! It’s a historic, quaint, and friendly little town with a variety of shops to poke through and stores with just about everything you need for supplies. There’s even a casino, if you’re up for a little Blackjack (or Twenty-one). My fav.
  • Gananoque offers a variety of restaurants, pubs, and fast food to choose from.
  • Gananoque has all types of lodging to suit every budget and taste from camping to cottages, and B&Bs, or nice hotels. So you can kayak camp on an island nearby and still plan to meet up with friends and family that have decided they’d rather basecamp on the mainland in luxury accommodations!
  • Gananoque is off Highway 401 or Highway 2 in Ontario making it convenient to get there.
  • Good cell phone reception: I had good cell phone reception on the water. Rogers kept calling me trying to sell me more services. I kept telling them, “I’m on the water right now paddling a sea kayak. I can’t talk to you!” They laughed, “When will you be off the water . . . ?”

To sum it up

I didn’t want my first kayak camping trip to be in a remote area without services or conveniences. This is why I chose the 1000 Islands from Gananoque, Ontario, Canada. It was fun, affordable, and convenient.

Happy trip planning!
Peggy Varner
Publisher of the BaffinPaddler http://baffinpaddler.blogspot.com

Read other stories in this series:


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