Basic Sea Kayaking Course - Kitsap - 2020

Sea Kayaking Course

Basic Sea Kayaking Course

Learn how to paddle safely and efficiently. Learn about navigation, seamanship, kayaks and equipment, and conservation principles. Learn how to get back into your boat if you capsize.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers course.

The course includes over nine hours of classroom instruction, three hours in the swimming pool, and two days of on-the-water instruction. Topics covered include kayak & gear selection, tides, currents, navigation, weather, paddler fitness, outdoor ethics, and paddle strokes.

Participants  who successfully complete the course are eligible to go on appropriate level Mountaineer paddle trips.

To sign up, one must first be a member of the Mountaineers (join by clicking Membership button at top of page).

To complete the course, one must do the following: (1) Swim 50 yards without flotation; (2) Attend all classroom & pool sessions; (4) Successfully participate in two Mountaineers paddles no later than the last day of August; (5) Complete a Mountaineer-led conservation project.

We suggest participants not purchase paddling gear (with some exceptions) until after the classroom and open water sessions. If you already own your kayak and gear and wish to use them in the course, please discuss with the course coordinator.

The Kitsap Chapter Sea Kayaking Committee invites you to enroll in the Basic Sea Kayaking Course. This is a once-a-year offering that will provide you with a thorough and safe introduction into the world of sea kayaking.  Learn the basic paddling strokes, how to get back in if you end up out of your boat and in the water, trip planning, proper and necessary equipment, and important safety guidelines and procedures. On top of all of this you'll make new friends that you'll enjoy paddling with during and after the class.

To participate in Mountaineer-sponsored kayak trips, you must be a graduate or continuing student of this course or have received equivalency. While this class is  for Mountaineer members only we'd love to have you in the class so join first then register for the course!

Course Prerequisites: Kayaking requires good physical condition, a positive mental attitude, a significant commitment of time and effort, and a complement of kayaking gear (see information about gear in "Required Equipment") .

The course is open to those who acknowledge the ability to meet the following essential eligibility criteria:

  1. Breathe independently (i.e., not require medical devices to sustain breathing)

  2. Independently maintain sealed airway passages while under water

  3. Independently hold head upright without neck/head support

  4. Manage personal care independently without assistance

  5. Follow instructions and effectively communicate independently without assistance

  6. Independently turn from face-down to face-up and remain floating face up while wearing a properly fitted Personal Flotation Device (PFD) aka “life jacket”.

The course is designed to teach the basics of SEA kayaking.  Students will be paddling in the Salish Sea in saltwater with currents and waves.  This course is for single occupant sea kayaks (minimum 13’ / maximum 19’ long), using a spray skirt to seal the paddler into the cockpit at all times.  It is not for sit-on-top kayaks, short recreational boats, or white-water kayaks.  The course is designed to teach active water paddling in currents and waves.  It is not designed to teach recreational, protected flat water kayaking.

In addition to the essential eligibility criteria listed above a student should:

  • Have adequate upper body strength and mobility to perform a minimum of five push-ups (from knees or toes)

  • Have adequate upper body strength and mobility to lift 25 lbs. over your head (with both hands if needed).

  • Have enough complete body flexibility to be able to sit upright on the floor with legs straight out in front

  • Have enough body strength, flexibility, and stamina to engage in physically demanding exercise (sea kayaking) on a sustained basis for 1-1/2 to 2 hours at a time, with occasional rest stops.

  • Be able to walk at a 2-1/2 to 3 mph pace for one hour on flat ground

  • Be able to hold your breath under water for extended periods (20+seconds) and to do so repeatedly with very short intervals between.

Students are strongly encouraged to engage in physical exercise 1 hour a day, 3-5 times per week, before and during the course (yoga, walking, running, biking, swimming, etc.). Being fit will increase your enjoyment and chance of success in the course.

Eligibility: The course is open to Mountaineer members, age 18 and over, or 16 years old when a parent or guardian is also taking the class.

Course Registration and Enrollment: Course is limited to 6 students on a first-come, first-serve basis. Payment and enrollment process is through the Mountaineers Program Center or website.  Join the Mountaineers and then sign up and pay for the course as a member.  Enrollment will close when the course fills or on 5/6/20, whichever comes first.

If the course is full and you want to participate make sure you sign up on the wait-list.  You don't have to pay until you are actually enrolled in the class.  Every year there is always a last minute cancellation (or two). That slot is filled from the wait-list in chronological order.

Graduation Requirements:

  • Attend all scheduled lectures.

  • Satisfactorily complete pool and open water sessions.

  • Satisfactorily complete two student paddles after last lecture and before October 31, 2020.

  • Membership in Mountaineers.

  • All requirements must be completed by October 31 of the course year.

Course Structure and Dates:

Calendar (Mandatory Attendance)

  • 5/23/20- Lecture #1

  • 5/24/20- Lecture #2

  • 4/11/20-Protected Water Session, 

  • 5/25/20-Lecture #3

  • 5/24/20-Lecture #4 & Open Water Clinic

  • 5/26/20-Open Water Clinic

Locations and Times:

  • Lectures:  8:15AM to 6PM TBD

  • Protected Water Session:  1:30PM to 5:30PM Date and Location TBD

  • Open Water Clinic: 8AM to 5PM at 11878 NE Jefferson Point Road, Kingston, WA 98346

When you sign up and pay for the course you will automatically be enrolled in the required  4 lectures, Protected Water Session, and Open Water Clinic.

Attendance at all lectures, pool session, and open water clinic is required to complete the course, so please plan accordingly. There is no protocol for make-up sessions.

Student Paddles:

  • Student paddles are available throughout the summer at various locations in the Salish Sea.  We will schedule your first student paddle opportunity for Saturday, 5/30/20, so you can get one of your two required student paddles completed while all the class experiences are fresh in your mind.  Please plan on participating if possible.  You'll find it convenient since there will be a coordinated effort for rental equipment, if you need it, delivered to the paddle site.  Paddle site is TBD

    • We will instruct you in one of the lectures on how to find and sign up for appropriate sea kayak trips.  

Questions? Call Barney Bernhard, Basic Course Chair, at 360-479-3679 (cell) or email at

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Additional badges needed to graduate


Required Equipment

Booties, water shoes, or old tennis shoes for use in the water portions of the classes. NO sandals or shoes with straps in the boats. They tend to catch on things as you are working in and around the boats.

  • PFD: if you have a Type III PFD for kayaking or canoeing bring it so you can work in your own gear. 
  • Fleece or sweat shirt or something else really warm for while out of the water in-between segments.
  • Snacks, water, etc. for hydrating and energizing during the session. 
  • Change of clothes for after the event.
  • Swimmer’s nose plugs and goggles if you already have them and know how to use/work in them.
  • A good attitude.
  • A nice smile.
  • A willingness to work hard and learn.
Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.