Ray Boucher teaching sea kayaking in Georgian Bay, Ontario to some adults.
Location: Georgian Bay, Ontario. Photo Credit: David Johnston

Sea Kayak Level-1 Skills

Discipline: Sea Kayaking Stream: Skills Development

Building on the information covered in Basic Skills, Sea Kayak Level-1 Skills is a two-day course that moves participants beyond flatwater kayaking and into the sport of sea kayaking.


The course is conducted in slightly rougher water than Basic Kayak, aiming to develop the paddler’s comfort. There is a strong focus on re-entry techniques as well as the skills required to safely plan and execute a day trip with friends (for example, navigation & route planning, weather interpretation, proper clothing/gear.)

Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to confidently paddle in class-1 conditions in the company of one or more paddlers with similar skills or knowledge. The paddler should be self-reliant yet an asset to the group and an active participant, willing and able to assist others if they need assistance.

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Course Overview

Typical Course Length

16 hours of instruction (2 days).

Course Water Class

This course runs in Class-1 conditions which are described as:

Non-challenging waters with mild wind effect (0-20 km/h or 0–11 knots), little or no current (0-1 km/h or 0–0.5 knots), uninterrupted easy landing options, and ready access to land-based assistance. Sea state is calm to light chop.

Learn more about our water classification system.

Course Topics

Re-entry Skills
  • Unassisted re-entry
  • Assisted re-entry
  • Towing
Paddling Skills
  • Launching and landing
  • Forward and reverse strokes
  • Stopping
  • Sweep stroke
  • Draw stroke
  • Low brace
  • Stern rudder
  • Edge control
Knowledge
  • Equipment and equipment care
  • Communication
  • Route planning and basic navigation techniques
  • Half day kayak journey
  • Weather
  • Sea state
  • Risk assessment and mitigation
  • Cold issues and sun safety
  • Impact of kayakers on the environment
  • History and heritage
  • Vehicle boat tie down
  • Kayaking community and resources
Course Prerequisites
  • Certification
    • Paddle Canada Basic Kayak skills certification or equivalent skill and knowledge at the discretion of the course director.
  • Paddling Experience
    • Five kayaking excursions (2 or 3 hours) in class-0 conditions.
    • Can execute a controlled wet exit in class-0 conditions.
    • Can perform a simple assisted re-entry in class-0 conditions.
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