Seattle Basic Sea Kayaking 2022

Sea Kayaking Course

Basic Sea Kayaking Course

Sea Kayaking Basic Course - Seattle 2022. This is the Seattle Branch introductory course to the fundamentals of sea kayaking.  It is designed for those who have no prior experience. It will prepare you for fresh or salt water outings in easy to moderate conditions.  If you have prior experience, our equivalency test may be more suitable for you.

This course consists of an evening online classroom session, one weekend (2 full days) on-water, and two qualifying saltwater student paddles.  

As part of the classroom session you will also be provided with reading material that will introduce the concepts you need complete the hands on parts of the course.  

During the on water weekend, you will put into action and expand on what the classroom material introduced.  During the on-water weekend, you will exit a capsized kayak, re-enter in deep water, and learn the core strokes to maneuver a kayak.

Two saltwater paddles are required to complete this course.  The first salt water paddle is scheduled as part of this course.   It will reinforce all that came before and be a delightful introduction to the adventures that await. Additional student level paddles will be scheduled over the summer to allow ample time to complete the required second paddle and graduate from the course. You will also have the opportunity to interact with leaders and instructors who can provide additional information and instruction. 

Here are links to the first of the required saltwater paddle options.  Please pick ONE only; you will need a different saltwater paddle later to complete the course.  These will be posted as we move into the spring.  

The links are:

Kayaking topics you will be introduced to include to: 

  • Equipment including kayaks, paddles, clothing, and minimum gear for safe trips
  • Cold water environments, hypothermia and survival
  • Capsize recovery/rescues and the importance of team work
  • Sea conditions including weather, waves, tides and currents
  • Basic navigation, trip planning and seamanship
  • Paddling skills and countering the effects of wind and waves on boat behavior
  • Safety, conservation practices and followership

The course schedule is

  1. Zoom classroom session on May 4, 2022 starting at 7pm and running about 90 minutes (required for graduation)
  2. Low impact recreation e learning:  A short (maybe an hour) online learning course that results in a badge.  The link to it is here:  
  3. On water (lake) weekend:  two days on water at Lake Sammamish on May 14-15.  
  4. Saltwater paddle #1:  One-day introductory salt water paddle out of Port Gamble.  You will need to choose and sign up for one of the 3 options for this paddle from the website.  The dates are May 21, or 22, or June 4. 
  5. You will need to successfully complete one more salt water paddles in order to graduate, scheduled at your convenience.  Basic level trips will be posted throughout the summer for you to sign up for; the only required badge will be the 'student' badge you will have as part of this course.  When you complete the second paddle and graduate, your ability to sign up for trips will expand.  You can set your profile to be notified of trips as they are posted.  

Minimum physical requirements  generally include:  

  • Being flexible enough to get into and out of a sea kayak, and sit with legs extended for periods up to about 90 minutes;
  • Being able to swim in a PFD (personal flotation device) and immersion wear in outdoor environments (lake and Puget Sound) in calm but not necessarily flat conditions.  There will be an initial 25 yard swim test to be performed in a dry suit with PFD.  
  • Sufficient general strength, endurance and coordination to be able to perform basic paddle strokes, wet exits, self rescues, and assisted rescues as demonstrated in the class.  
  • Sufficient fitness to paddle for about 90 minutes at a relaxed pace.  This course does not require an high level of strength or fitness; it does require a moderate level.  If you have questions, please let us know.   

Successful completion of all requirements is necessary in order to graduate.  

Additional Costs:  Students are required to provide or rent sea kayaks and equipment for the Open Water session and student paddles.  Paddle-specific PFDs and appropriate immersion wear will be required at all times on the water.   Discover Pass or paid parking fee will be required at some locations.  Click on the “Required Equipment” tab below for more information on boat and equipment rentals.

Equivalency:  If you have prior kayak experience the equivalency program may be a better fit for you--here is a link to that:

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Additional badges needed to graduate


Required Equipment

Covid vaccination notice:  Proof of full COVID vaccination is required no later than 5/1/2022 in order to participate in this course.  Details on how to  provide that verification to follow. 

Required equipment:

This equipment can be rented.  You are not required to own a dry suit, kayak, and accessories prior to taking the course.  Appropriate rental boats and equipment are available from a number of vendors. We anticipate that Kayak Academy will have boats and gear available for rent for the weekend session at prices TBD.  Olympic Sports at Port Gamble will have boats and gear available as well for the Port Gamble day; see that trip posting for details.  Rental equipment may also be available from any number of other paddle shops in the area.

The specific equipment is:

  • A drysuit that will keep water out in full immersion, or pre-approved wetsuit
  • Correctly sized rigid sea kayak with at least two bulkheads and perimeter deck lines. No Surf Skis, White Water, Sit On Top, or Recreation Kayaks. Students bringing their own must seek pre-approval.
  • Paddle
  • Standard paddle-specific PFD--means foam kind, not inflatable
  • Spray Skirt that fits the boat 
  • Pump
  • Paddle Float  

If you plan on buying or using your own boat or equipment please contact course leader by email for approval.  

You will need proper immersion wear and standard PFD for all in-water parts of the class.  The universal solution is a paddle specific dry suit in good condition and a paddle-specific standard PFD.  If you want to use a wet suit, please contact us well in advance.  Some types of wet suits don't work for paddling, some are ok.  However, you should understand that they may not be appropriate for conditions of any specific trip whether in the class or in the future.  We'll need to approve your wetsuit use for the class in advance; future approval on trips will be at the discretion of that trip leader.

Course Materials