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Basic sea kayaking class with Washington Kayak Club.

After a few pool sessions in my whitewater kayak I felt pretty confident, but had no idea how different it would be in a sea kayak. While sea kayakers and white-water kayakers enjoy getting out on the water, the sports that they enjoy are polar opposites. As one of my instructors said : " If it ( sea kayaking) was easy, it would be called whitewater..."

Besides the work of paddling, sea kayaking requires constant navigating, weather monitoring, and dealing with long, exposed crossing. Most important is to realize that you're in water and to be comfortable with the idea that you will get wet, and know that capsizing and swimming will be a part of the learning curve. To that end it is highly recommended that instruction be sought.

Washington Kayak Club offers 2 and 1/2 day Basic Sea Kayaking Class once a year. I had a great opportunity to take part in this year's training course.

This year’s WKC Basic Sea Kayaking Course took place at Whidbey Island’s Coronet Bay Environmental Learning Center. The location itself couldn't be more perfect : the site is set on a saltwater bay and surrounded by forest, most of the sleeping cabins have bunk beds and hold up to 10 people. Spacious and comfortable, the cabins offer groups the opportunity "to get away from it all" in an outdoor, natural environment. Food ( included in the course price) was absolutely delicious.

The course is a combination of on-water and classroom seminars. Evening lecture- style classes covered the topics of safety, tides and currents, navigation, kayak camping, and signaling demonstration ( flare guns, aerial flares , hand held smoke flares...).

The on-water training part was held at Bowman Bay ( just " a few " paddle strokes away from Deception Pass).

Sea kayaks as a class are distinct from whitewater kayaks and other boats. Sea kayaks can be "tippier" than others as they are long and narrow, but that's where they get their speed. Personally, it took me more time to get used to my sea kayak than to my whitewater one. That's why learning even basic strokes was a totally new experience for me. In my opinion, self rescue and assisted rescue techniques are one of the most essential skills you can learn in this class : Paddle Float rescue, the Cowboy re-entry, Bow, T- Rescue...can spell the difference between a dunk and a disaster.

The Great ( huge ! ) Finale of the course was Kayaking Adventure through Deception Pass and a graduation ceremony with "Certificate of Completion " being awarded to all participants !

Sea kayaking is not a solo sport, and there is no better way to learn the sport than with a group of expedition leaders from Washington Kayak Club. Their joy and enthusiasm, wit and intelligence, and superior people skills will make your kayaking adventures exciting and stimulating, yet with a very low risk factor.

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