The TRAIL SHOP Canoe to Sea
The Shubenacadie Canal and Waterway is made up of seven lakes and one loooong river. Many different sections have been used as the event route for the TRAIL SHOP Canoe to the Sea marathon canoe race since it was first held in 1989.
Several active canoe/kayak clubs on the lakes have played host to the visiting participants, much as they did when the best paddlers in the world came to the Shubenacadie Canal for the 2000 Marathon Canoe World Championships. The Shubenacadie Canal Commission's Fairbanks Centre, located right on the Canal itself, often provides VIP and closing ceremony venues, as well as the participant luncheon.
The event features a morning start to avoid any head winds of later in the day and paddlers must sometimes navigate a few portages over a sand bar, or around Gaspereau fishing weirs, depending on the route that year, the season and water levels of the day. These features often add to the enjoyment of the spectators along the shore or on a road bridge overhead. Very little fast or dangerous white water will be encountered, nor will there be any hidden navigational hazards (other than the occasional old stump). The main problem will be the sand bars... not that they are dangerous, its just that they are difficult to get off, once you have run your kayak up on one.
There is always a Recreational Fun Race class for families and any less competitive paddlers. This is for adult-youth groups (parents, kids, pets, etc.) in recreational style canoes and kayaks. All participants are welcomed to the Bar-B-Q and prize party afterwards (see below).
Last Year's Results:
There were 114 participants in the event in June 2012. Almost everybody was keen to challenge the river's tidal bore and see if they could finish the course before it actually came in. Well, 70% did and the rest were left to either paddle very hard to the finish, or to come ashore a little upstream on the banks at South Maitland. Of those that faced down the bore, many said that they had an even better experience than those who finished early; at least, they had a better story to tell! One kayaker in the event had a personal photographer on the shore, recording the fun. Sherry Lang's photo record is available here. And what would a modern day paddle be without a video on YouTube? Here's a splash-by-splash account from Dieter Kirsch.
First place in the actual race (lightweight canoes) went to a father daughter team from Milton NS, Dave and Bev Lewis who finished the complete course in just over 3 hours. That is them in the foreground of this photo from the Start. In the recreational categories, Colin and Alan McNeil from New Glasgow were the first tandem kayak to pull in and Ryerson and Annie Clark, of Dartmouth, were the first canoeists. Dartmouth's Robert Fraser and Mary Guptil from Meteghan were the top solo kayakers. The event would not have been possible without Tamara Stephen at Canoe Kayak Nova Scotia and we thank her for all the enthusiastic support she offered. As well, the support on the shore from the Venture troop of East Dartmouth, Registrar Shirley Wenaus, plus the Marshalls Ross Mitchell and Piet Mars, made the event a success... And those wonderful people of Maitland in their period costumes were a big hit with the participants. Their annual "Maitland Launch Days" is an August tourism attraction you shouldn't miss. And one more thing... The Trail Shop did it again for us... many thanks to John Anet!
The Whispering Winds Campground, and Wide Open Wilderness Family Campground have sites available for race entrants and the Tidal Bore Rafting Park and Cottages offers overnight stays. Plus there are some historic B&Bs located in Maitland and along the length of the waterway.
Of course, the winners of each class are awarded a trophy where their accomplishments are suitably enscribed for all time, and the Trail Shop in Halifax is pleased to be able to offer a considerable number of gifts and door prizes. That all happens at the box lunch and Awards Ceremony afterwards. For the story of one participating couple and their award, see the personal blog of Rye and Annie Clarke.
Entry fee is $40 per paddler, covering registration, food, T-shirt, draw prizes, shuttle bus and safety boats.
ThisYear's Route - 2013
Each year the actual course changes due to tide and weather conditions. Please see the map here for the 2013 edition of the event. The route will follow the banks of the Shubenacadie River as it flows between East Hants and Colchester. The start line is the wharf at the ballfield in the Village of Shubenacadie. Paddlers will enter the river there at high tide and paddle 39 km. down river, with the out-going current and through some of the most beautiful vinyards and pastureland in the province, finishing at the Bay of Fundy, near the historic old town wharf at the Village of Maitland.
And yes, 39 km. does sound like a long way, but the water will be moving with you at about 6-7 knots, so the complete trip usually takes a little less than 5 hours. That should be lots of time to reach the Bay of Fundy before the incoming tidal bore. The only problem will be getting out at the finish, where the red river mud may be a little 'sticky'. Most likely, the water level will still be up to the grassy shoreline.
For More Information & 2013 Pre-registration
Please contact Event Director, Allan Billard, contact him online here