Skip to main content

See also:

Paddking North

Paddling North by Audrey Sutherland


Paddling North by Audrey Sutherland and Yoshiko Yamamoto, Ventura, California: Patagonia Books (June 15, 2012), Hardcover, 172 pages, $16.57 (, $7.69 Kindle) reviewed by John Hall

Audrey’s story is the stuff legends are made from
Audrey’s story is the stuff legends are made from
A kayak, a free spirit and decades of discovering the power of one

According to the publisher’s notes, in her book Paddling North Audrey Sutherland presents “A tale remarkable for its unselfconscious self-reliance and acute natural observation, the author begins with her decision, at age 60, to undertake a solo, summer long voyage along the southeast coast of Alaska in an inflatable kayak.”

Published by Patagonia Books, “Paddling North is a compilation of Sutherland's first two (of over 20) such annual trips and her day-by-day travels through the Inside Passage from Ketchikan to Skagway. Sutherland also includes maps, illustrations and the author's recipes.”

When asked in an interview, “Patagonia Books Presents an Interview with Audrey Sutherland, Author of Paddling North” (September 6 2012) with Dave Hope, to “Tell me about your latest book, Paddling North” Audrey responded:

“It’s a story of a trip I took from Ketchikan around Revillagigedo Island and then across to Prince of Wales Island. I then hitchhiked with my boat deflated and folded up from Hollis to Craig, and then continued on the water to Point Baker and across Sumner Strait. From there I went up to Kake and crossed over to Baranof Island, then on the outside of Chichagof Island. I ended up in Skagway via Icy Strait, Chatham Strait, and the Lynn Canal. That’s the actual boat right there, on the deck against the house.”

Sutherland also informed Mr. Hope that “I keep journals on all my trips, whether the trip was to Moloka‘i or wherever. I have always kept a diary, even when I was a kid. I don’t know maybe it’s ego, but it helps if you want to remember something later. I’ve got diaries from way back, every trip I always kept a journal. Here’s one. What year is on there?”

Audrey Sutherland grew up in California but lived in Hawaii since 1952. She was a single mother with four children. Sutherland was school counselor until 1962, when she decided to explore the coast of Moloka’i by swimming it while towing an inflatable raft with her supplies. Her previous include Paddle My Own Canoe and Paddling Hawaii.

John Dowd, author of Sea Kayaking: A Manual for Long-Distance Touring writes that ‘Audrey’s story is the stuff legends are made from. For the 30 years that I've known her she has been an inspiration to both women and men -- often shaming us into action with her exhortation to go solo and keep it simple, an approach that flies in the face of the consumer style of kayaking that most of us adhere to.’