201: Wind, Waves, and Weather

Get Ready for the Open Coast!

This course is designed to give you an opportunity to develop the practical skills necessary for paddling in more challenging environments such as open water and rocky coastlines.

This class is designed as an experiential learning opportunity…a chance to refine your skills and practice new ones under the watchful eye of a coach. Ideal conditions for this course are seas of 1-3 feet and winds of 10-15 knots. We’ll start out in protected water to practice strokes, then move out to more exposed areas for work on rescues.

You’ll leave this course a bit waterlogged, but more confident in your ability to paddle our coastal waters.


6.5 hours

Instructor to Participant Ratio


Skills Taught

Depending on weather conditions, the course itinerary may be adjusted to take full advantage of the environment,  but the basic course consists of three components:

  • Technical Knowledge – To help you plan, prepare, and carry out a day trip on the coast
  • Seamanship – To help you deal with weather conditions encountered in coastal areas
  • Safety – The individual and group skills necessary for safe paddling in coastal environments

Strokes and maneuvers

  • Review of core paddling strokes.
  • Launching and landing in small 1-3’ surf (if available)
  • Strategies for dealing with wind
  • Strategies for dealing with beam, head, and following seas and paddling in dynamic conditions (e.g.refracting waves)

Rescue and safety

  • Group paddling and communication
    • Intra-group signals
    • Keeping your group together and visible
    • Emergency procedures
  • Interacting with recreational and commercial boat traffic
  • Reentry practice (assisted and solo) in more challenging conditions
  • Towing
    • Towing equipment and use
    • Contact tow
    • In line tow
    • Rafted tow
    • Tow rescue in progress

Technical Skills

  • Reading a marine chart
    • Identifying hazards
    • Selecting a safe route
    • Estimating distance & time
    • Basic on-water navigation skills such as use of natural ranges to determine drift
  • Weather interpretation
    • Using a marine forecast and observations to plan appropriately
  • Identifying group assets and liabilities

Meeting Location

This course meets on Catawba Island, approximately one hour and 15 minutes west of Cleveland.    Participants will meet at Rudder’s Cafe for check-in.  Detailed driving instructions can be found using this link, or by clicking the map below.

Upcoming Class Dates


Prior Courses

 101: Sea Kayak Essentials or an equivalent experience.  Participants should have working knowledge of basic maneuvers and rescues (e.g., assisted T-rescue;  self-rescues).

Age Limits

14 and over only, please.    Participants under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.   Participants over 16 but under 18 must have a waiver signed by a legal guardian. 

Height and Weight Limits

In order to ensure your comfort and safety, participants should be between 5′ and 6’4″ tall and 95 lbs to 235 lbs.

Non-Discriminatory Essential Eligibility Criteria

In order to participate in this program, each participant must satisfy the following essential eligibility criteria: 

  • Be able to independently participate in all individual skills and activities while also maintaining an appropriate and safe body position.
  • Be able to hold their breath while under water and, while in the water wearing a properly fitted lifejacket, be able to independently turn from a face down to a face up position keeping their head above water. 
  • Be able to effectively communicate with the instructor and other program participants. 
  • Be able to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a companion.
  • Be able to manage all personal mobility independently, or with the assistance of a companion.