Sea Kayaking Basic Seattle - 2024

Sea Kayaking Course

Basic Sea Kayaking Course

Learn Sea Kayaking with the Mountaineer's Seattle branch. This course is designed for students with no prior experience. The goal is to prepare you for fresh and saltwater outings in easy to moderate conditions. (Note: If you have prior experience our equivalency test may be a better match for you.)

Thinking of bringing your own kayak? If so, please click here.

From classroom lessons to exiting a kayak upside down and underwater and completing a 9-mile paddle, this class will introduce students to the fundamentals of Sea Kayaking and earn the Basic Sea Kayaking Badge.

Course Overview

To complete the course students must do the following:

  • Attend the class session with a lecture and Q&A.
  • Earn the Low-Impact Recreation Badge
  • Attend the two-day on-the-water class on Lake Sammamish.
  • Enjoy two saltwater paddles.
  • Demonstrate competency at exiting and re-entering a capsized kayak.

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

Basic Lecture

The class session will be at the Seattle Mountaineers building. This activity is a primer for the hand on activities to follow. It will include information on safety, the sea kayaking sport, and outline skills we will be learning. The date, time, and registration can be found under the “Course Requirements” tab below.

lesson Summary
  • Introduction to terms and ideas.
  • Fundamental threats and safety

Low-Impact Recreation Badge

On the water or off, all Mountaineer's activities can be enhanced by behaving in a low-impact manner. The eLearning course can be taken at your convenience by browsing here.

Lake Sammamish Instruction Weekend

On both days students will be broken up into small groups to receive sea kayaking instruction from our volunteers. Each day will take place near the south end of Lake Sammamish. The first day is dedicated to rescuing and recovery. Students will learn to exit a capsized kayak while underwater and to get back by themselves or with the help of others.

The second day is all about maneuvering the kayak. We will introduce the basic strokes that will help you move your kayak where you want it to go.

Both days will include getting wet. The dates, times, and registration for the Lake Instruction Session can be found by scrolling down and clicking on the “Course Requirements” tab below.

lesson Summary
  • Exiting a capsized kayak.
  • Re-entering a kayak alone or with help.
  • Helping others re-enter a kayak.
  • Basic strokes to move forward, backward, and turn.

Two Saltwater Paddles

The final step to completing the Sea Kayaking Basics Course is to complete two student-friendly paddles. Each student paddle must be at least 7 nm (a little over 8 miles). These paddles will also include review exercises of key skills from the Lake Sessions. The first student paddle will be one of the three 8 nm Port Gamble Bay paddles linked below. If a student wishes to skip the Port Gamble activity they must ask for special permission.

  • June 15
  • June 22
  • July 6

For the second student paddle, we invite students to scan the Mountaineers website for Sea Kayak activities. Throughout the summer our volunteers will post student-level paddles which should give students ample opportunities to graduate from the course.

lesson Summary
  • Paddling with a group.
  • Nautical Navigation exercises.
  • Applying learned skills in a saltwater environment.

Physical requirements

  • Being flexible enough to get into and out of a sea kayak, and sit with legs extended for periods of up to about 90 minutes.
  • Being able to swim in a PFD 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, exit a capsized kayak, climb back into a kayak, and assist other paddlers in returning to their kayak.
  • Sufficient fitness to paddle for about 90 min at a relaxed pace.  This course does not require a high level of strength or fitness; it does require a moderate level.  If you have questions, please let us know.   

Personal Boats

Many students would like to bring their own boats or plan to buy one for this course. Please keep in mind that there are a wide range of kayaks in the world and not all models are suitable for this course or Mountaineer Sea Kayak activities.

If you want to use your own boat please email the course leader.

We are looking for a properly sized sea kayak with the following features.

  • Must be sit-inside
  • Have deck lines
  • Two bulkheads
  • 14-feet or longer

Please see the Required Equipment tab for additional information.

additional costs

Students are required to bring 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.   Kayak and gear for the Lake Sammamish Instruction Weekend can be rented at Kayak Academy. Discover Pass or paid parking fee will be required at some locations.  Click on the Required Equipment tab below for more information on equipment requirements and rentals.


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

Basic Sea Kayaking Course Equivalency

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Additional badges needed to graduate


Required Equipment

Equipment List

The following equipment is needed for lake sessions and student paddles.

Immersion gear

A dry suit or other pre-approved immersion wear. Students will spend time in the water.

You will need proper immersion wear for all in-water parts of the class.  The universal solution is a paddle-specific dry suit in good condition.  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 the 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.

Properly Sized Sea Kayak

A properly sized sea kayak with the following features.

  • Must be sit-inside
  • Have deck lines
  • Two bulkheads

If you plan on bringing your own boat please contact us to ensure it meets the specifications.

Note: Sit-on-top, surf ski, and white water kayaks will not be accepted.

Paddling Accessories

  • Paddle
  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
  • Spray Skirt
  • Bilge Pump
  • Paddle Float

Equipment Rental

This equipment can be rented.  You are not required to own a dry suit, kayak, and accessories prior to taking the course.  Rental boats and equipment are available from a number of vendors. Kayak Academy will be offering rentals for the weekend session on the lake. Olympic Outdoor Center in Port Gamble will have boats and gear available for the Port Gamble days; see that trip posting for details.  Rental equipment may also be available from any number of other paddle shops in the area.

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.