From Ottawa to New York and Back, on an SUP

For the last two months, Dan Rubinstein has stand-up paddleboarded across the U.S. and Canada. He left his Ottawa home on June 24 and paddled to New York City. Then he began the return journey. Yesterday, he landed back in his hometown after covering approximately 1,900km.

Over the 94 days, he has paddled the Rideau River, Ottawa River, St. Lawrence River, Richelieu River, Lake Champlain, Champlain Canal, the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, Niagara River, and Lake Ontario. On his outward journey, he made his way to New York via Montreal. There, he took a bus to Albany and took the Erie Canal. From there, he wound his way back to Ottawa via Toronto.


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A post shared by Dan Rubinstein (@danrubinsteinsup)

Most of the time, he covered between 30 and 35km per day, with a one-day high of 50km. He said he lost himself in the repetition of his days.

“When we’re on the water, things slow down,” he told the Orleans Hub. On his inflatable paddleboard, he carried 20-30kg of camping equipment, water, food, and paddling gear. He stayed with friends occasionally but camped most of the time. No support team followed him, so he restocked whenever food was available near the waterways.

“It’s been fun figuring out how to get food and shelter in places where the main way of going anywhere is on roads and highways, and not the water anymore,” he told the Buffalo News.

Dan Rubinstein paddles out in Cow Bay

Photo: @danrubinsteinsup


Currents, winds, heat, smoke

Each body of water presented different obstacles. Lake Ontario had strong winds, while the Niagara River featured contrary currents. His journey also coincided with a swelteringly hot, smoky, and windy summer. On his penultimate day, he had to fight 36kph headwinds and only covered 20km in six hours.

Dan Rubinstein stands at the last lock of his 10 week journey.

Dan Rubinstein completes his 1,900km paddle from Ottawa to New York and back. Photo: @danrubinsteinsup


Although Rubenstein has largely traveled by himself, this was not strictly a solo endeavor. Several times, friends have paddled or swum alongside him.

He did this not to see how far or quickly he could paddle, but to deepen his connection to the world of paddling. Rubenstein, an outdoor journalist, interviewed others en route about waterways and their own relationship to them for a future book.

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.