Kayak Instruction

Kayak Instruction
Mar 24

Roatan ACA L3 Kayak Instructional Retreat

March 24, 2018 - March 31, 2018
Jun 07

Why Learn to Sea Kayak with Uncommon Adventures?

  • Uncommon Adventures Staff are certified in coastal kayaking by the American Canoe Association (ACA), the British Canoe Union (BCU), or both.
  • We have been teaching paddlesports and sea kayaking for over 30 years.
  • We have presented at over 140 kayak symposia throughout North America.
  • Our approach is low-key and multi-disciplinary to match your learning style.
  • We offer ACA certified Kayak Skills Training as well as Kayak Instructor Training courses.
  • We offer regular workshops here in Northwest Michigan or we can come to your location fully equipt!
  • Call us toll free at 231-882-5525 or e-mail for schedule information.

We also invite you to stop in at our retail partners: Backcountry North in Traverse City: 231-946-1339 or Crystal Lake Adventure Sports in downtown Beulah 231-882-2527. We encourage you to shop these specialty shops for their knowledge base and amazing service….something you just won’t find in big box stores.

Kayak Skills Classes

Is your life worth $100? Spending less than that could save it. Cheap insurance.  Uncommon Adventures offers a variety of regularly scheduled sea kayak classes and weekend workshops to aid in your kayak skills development.  Our primary emphasis is to help you have more fun in the water while moving you up the learning curve more quickly.  Naturally, this also has the added advantage of learning fundamental kayak safety…we like repeat business, so teaching you the fundamentals of recoveries and rescues are part of the very first lesson.

Kayak Instruction on our Trips

The best way to develop good sea kayaking skills and technique is by repeating them. What better way than to have a certified kayak instructor at your disposal over a number of days?  That is the advantage of a multi-day kayaking tour. When you return you’ll have learned all sorts of kayak skills, but also weather reading, handling winds, some fundamental navigation, maybe a few new stars, bird calls, tall tales and new tricks for turning out gourmet edibles in the backcountry.  You will also have made some new friends who enjoy the same activities as you.

Kayak Instructional Menu

These classes are scheduled as time permits for groups of 2-10.

Fundamentals of Coastal Kayaking

Student to instructor ratio: 5:1 maximum —  $90/person
Beginning with “land school”, you’ll learn a bit about what kayaks work best for what conditions, choosing gear, boat fit, dressing for paddling, kayak and paddle design, carrying and loading kayaks… before we even leave the beach! Next you will learn good techniques for fundamental kayaking strokes:  forward, backward and stop.  You will also learn to stabilize your kayak with a solid low brace and turning with sweep strokes. The final part of the kayaking class will be spent working on “wet exits” and group rescue practice, including a variety of methods of T-Rescue.

Fundamentals of Coastal Kayaking II

Student to instructor ratio: 5:1 max. —  $90/person
Step 2 on your path to better paddling skills. After an initial assessment of your kayaking skills, you will learn stroke enhancements that will help you turn better and travel forward with less energy expended. After a stroke tune-up, we’ll introduce you to the high brace, which can help you further avoid those nasty immersions. Eskimo bow rescues, non-roll solo rescues (paddle rescue float, etc.) and the components of a successful Eskimo roll will then be covered during the “wet” session. You’ll also be introduced to “risk management” as it relates to sea kayaking in the places you plan to play.

The Eskimo Roll

Student to instructor ratio: 3:1 — $50/hour, 2 hour minimum
If you can do a sweep stroke, a hip snap and have a reasonable high brace, then you already know the parts of a sweep or screw roll. During this session, you will work one-on-one with a kayak instructor / coach in the water for support to put the pieces together for a successful roll. You’ll actively assist in the coaching process of others so you can see what works and what doesn’t.

Rough Water and Surf Skills

Fall brings lumpy water and winds to your region while the water still retains summer’s warmth.  Each year we host a unique retreat to work on skills in conditions with the skilled support of coaches. Check out our Sleeping Bear Storm Gathering.

Kayak B&B Skills Weekends

Several weekends throughout the summer, we offer a sea kayak instruction retreat in the great lakes area where you can test out lots of gear and get a complete Coastal Kayak Fundamentals course from the comfort of our N. Michigan location – including lodging and terrific meals.  Its a great way to try a new sport or tune up existing kayaking skills to prepare for a trip. Its also how we get to know new clients and build groups for dream trips to places like Alaska, Greenland and Iceland!

ACA Kayaking Skills Courses

Link to ACA kayak skills course outlines: http://www.americancanoe.org/?Courses_Kayak

What does an ACA skills assessment do for you? Fundamentally, it will help you make better decisions about what is and isn’t safe for you to do given your skillset. It also helps you meet prerequisites for ACA Instructor courses and provide you with proof of training and skills should you decide you’d like to do an independent rental at an exciting paddling destination! These assessments are recognized throughout N. America and in Europe with training centers in Denmark and Germany. Throughout our year, we host a number of Level 3 and Level 4 Skills Training and Assessments. In summer, we host them in a comfortable lodge based setting at our NW Michigan base.  Spring, fall and winter you will find options offered on the Georgia Coast as well as the Florida Keys. Here is our current kayak instruction schedule.

ACA Coastal Kayaking Instructor Certification

Requirements from the ACA website: http://www.americancanoe.org/?page=Become_an_Instructor

I’m going to attempt to clarify ACA courses here to help you figure our own peculiar alphabet soup with the American Canoe Association. Courses on the skills track are outlined above and the following are designed for those teaching paddlesports or working in some capacity facilitating paddling safety.

Paddlesports Safety Facilitator

This certification program is designed for those people who working at rental operations to put paddlers on the water. It is composed of two parts; and on-line general paddlesports safety test and a discipline specific on-water portion that can be taught in a single day. I am available to teach this program in your area and can supplement your equipment if need be.

ACA Level 2 Instructor Certification Workshop (ICW)

A Level 1-2 Instructor Certification Workshop can be completed in 3 days and can be a very efficient way to gain certification to teach in calm, near-shore environs. We offer them at our base in NW Michigan or we can come to your site to offer custom programs for four or more participants. We can even provide full kayak outfitting. It is highly recommended to take a Level 2 Skills training workshop (one day) to perform at a passing level for this program. A Level 1 ICW flatwater instructor program can be completed in two days, but we highly recommend a prior skills training to ensure your pass rate. It is possible to be passed as a Level one instructor during a level 2 course if you didn’t quite meet requirements for Level 2.

ACA Level 3 Instructor Development Workshop (IDW)

This is required to prepare for a separate Instructor Certification Exam (ICE) for those interested in teaching more advanced skills in a more open water situation. This is a three day training course to learn to teach in coastal kayaks. We heartily recommend taking an IDW some time before taking your ICE to give yourself time to sharpen your skills. These courses require Level 3 skills assessment pass prior to taking them. There are some IT’s who will teach an L3 combined IDW/ICE over the course of a week, but I don’t find that outcomes are as positive. I do however, teach L3 Skills courses/assessments combined with an IDW for a very positive outcome.

Level 3 Instructor Certification Exam (ICE)

This is basically the test one takes after the IDW. Coaches are no longer teaching you, but are evaluating your teaching skills. I teach this stand-alone class over the course of 3 days at our NW Michigan base and often travel to teach them in other parts of the country.

Travel Courses

When I do programs for other organizations, I charge a flat daily rate plus expenses, rather than a per-student rate. I do my own instructional fleet available for travel courses should you need it.

ACA Levels

Okay — so what’s up with those Levels and what do they mean? Definitions below:

Level 1
Calm, flat water, protected from wind, waves and outside boat traffic, with no apparent current and within swimming distance of shore.

Level 2
Protected water near shore with winds up to 10 knots, waves up to one foot, and current up to one knot.

Level 3
Two of the following conditions necessary for assessment: 10-15 knot winds, 1-2 foot seas, 1-2 foot breaking waves (surf)
Note: If assessing in areas with tidal current, current must not exceed 2 knots.

Level 4
Open water, wind 11-16 knots, surf to 3 feet and current to 3 knots…must have 3 of 4 conditions present.