Canada is a large country with many different environments including rivers, lakes and oceans. To help standardize the learning environment for our students we developed a water classification system ranging from 0 to 4.
Each class describes the optimal environment expected including wind speed, current, wave or swell height, shoreline accessibility and finally access to land-based assistance.
The water classes were designed to be in alignment (where appropriate) with other organizations’ own classification including Transport Canada and Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC.
Environment: Non-challenging protected waters with limited wind effect, little or no current, easy landings, and ready access to land-based assistance. Wind and sea state is calm to rippled (<15km/h or 8 knots).
Environment: 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.
Environment: Moderately exposed coastline with frequent easy-landing opportunities and short crossings. Moderate potential wind effects (22-35 km/h or 12–19 knots), surf of less than 1 meter and a combined sea state of less than 1 metre, gentle to moderate non- turbulent currents (< 6 km/h or < 3 knots), and light surf beaches. Short delays in access to land-based assistance should be expected.
Environment: Exposed water, with more committed crossings and any combination of the following: moderate to strong currents with turbulence (≥ 6 km/h or ≥ 3 knots), moderate to strong wind effects (22-35 km/h or 12–19 knots), ocean swells and a combined sea state near 1 meter with occasional rough sea state. Difficult but frequent landing opportunities, surf-beaches with surf up to 1 metre. Delays in access to land-based assistance can expected.
Environment: Rugged and exposed coast with long and committed crossings and any combination of the following: strong turbulent currents (≥ 6 km/h or ≥ 3 knots), strong wind effects (near 37 km/h or 20 knots), large swells with a combined sea state 1 metre or more with a moderate to rough sea state, exposed surf beaches (≥1 metre), infrequent and sometimes difficult landings which present significant challenges for individual safety and group management. Significant delays in access to land-based assistance can be expected.