CT AMC Sea Kayak Participation and Leadership Guidelines


Guidelines for Participation on CT AMC Sea Kayak Trips

Required and Optional Equipment

Trip Leader Responsibilities

Trip Leader Qualifications

Sea Kayak Screening Form

Sea Kayak Float Plan

Guidelines for Participation on CT AMC Sea Kayak Trips (revised 6/18/06)

Trip Levels outline both the expected conditions and the necessary skills for the level of the trip - actual trip conditions will depend on a combination on trip location, trip length, tides and currents, and the weather. Thus, the level of any trip can vary from hour to hour. The leader will post the expected rating of the trip but the actual trip may differ from the rated level. You are ultimately responsible for your safety. Furthermore, it is your responsibility to determine whether your level of expertise and your equipment are sufficient for the trip. The trip leader does have the right to exclude you if he or she determines you do not have the expertise for the conditions of the trip or do not have the proper gear for the trip.

Sea Kayak Level I - Beginner

  • Most of the trip will be in protected water, significantly sheltered from waves, swell and severe wind.
  • Within half mile of shore
  • Previous paddling experience in a sea kayak.
  • Maintain boat stability and paddle straight.
  • Capable of paddling 2-3 miles
  • Able to swim 50 yards
  • Capable of wet exit with a spray skirt, maintaining contact with boat and paddle
  • Be able to re-enter the boat, either solo or assisted.
  • All paddlers must demonstrate a wet exit and re-entry to a leader before starting a first trip.
  • Sea Kayak Level II - Advanced beginner

  • Paddling on less sheltered rivers or harbors with waves of 1 foot or less, winds of 5-10 knots, or open water in flat water conditions with access to protected areas.
  • Can handle following seas and boat wakes.
  • Able to control and turn boat using forward, reverse, sweep and draw strokes.
  • Starting to use edging turns.
  • More confident control of boat including sculling and bracing
  • Capable of paddling 4 miles with 1-2 knot/hour pace
  • Capable of self-rescue using a paddle-float or other method.
  • Capable of a 2 person rescue, both victim and rescuer.
  • Sea Kayak Level III - Intermediate

  • Paddling on open water, up to 2 foot seas, 2-3 knot currents and 10-15 knot winds. Open water crossings up to 2 miles.
  • Be able to paddle up to 8 miles in open water
  • Be able to paddle briskly for 1 and hours
  • Well-defined strokes and edging while turning, sculling for support
  • Comfortable with low braces
  • Working on a roll
  • Draw boat sideways
  • Fully capable of self-rescue
  • Capable of several two-person rescues
  • Experience with towing
  • Sea Kayak Level IV - Advanced

  • Paddling on open water, up to ocean swells and chop and 20 knot winds
  • May have extended open water crossings with significant exposure to winds, waves, currents and boat traffic
  • Comfortable with strokes in open water and wind
  • Able to launch and land in a variety of conditions
  • Able to rescue others and do tows
  • Familiarity with charts, tides, currents and navigation
  • Dependable roll or self-rescue in 2 minutes
  • Can set and release in towing
  • Sea Kayak Level V - Expert

  • Able to paddle in remote locations in foul weather.
  • Winds up to 25 knots/per hour
  • 3 foot surf
  • Open crossings of 5-10 miles
  • Paddle up to 20 miles
  • Able to show and teach at all levels
  • Fully reliable roll
  • Re-enter kayak in rough conditions
  • Can handle a wide range of mishaps
  • Required and Optional Equipment

    Required for Sea Kayak all Levels

    Required for leader

    Highly recommended for participants and leaders

    Recommended for participants and leaders

    Trip Leader Responsibilities

    All coastal trips require co-leaders

    Trip leader responsibilities

    Trip leader qualifications


    Assistant leader

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    Flatwater pages maintained by Robert S. White