Announcing: NEW Weekend Workshops at Portland Paddle!
New this summer, we are excited to announce our series of four weekend workshops! These workshops are a great opportunity to dive deep into a specific topic of sea kayaking over a two day span. They are also an excellent opportunity to connect with other sea kayakers, because nothing improves skills faster than getting out on the water more! Each of these workshops will be led by our most experienced guides, giving participants the opportunity to learn from a team with decades of experience and some of the highest instructor certifications in the paddling industry. The workshops will cover sea kayak fundamentals, navigation skills, roughwater paddling, and expedition paddling. In addition, each workshop includes an optional social dinner after the first day! For full descriptions of each workshop in the series, and instructor bios, see below!
Intro Weekend is designed for anyone who is new to sea kayaking or with limited experience. We’ll cover everything we typically cover in our two-part Intro to Sea Kayak courses, but the weekend workshop will allow us to go a bit deeper into the fundamentals. And students will have the opportunity to use the skills and knowledge they’re learning during a day paddle to an island destination. If you think you’d enjoy becoming a sea kayaker, this workshop is a great way to get started. You’ll learn the essential skills, get to know Casco Bay from a paddler’s perspective and get connected with a group of fellow kayakers. All are invited to an optional dinner on the first evening of the course.
Navigation Weekend focuses on the core skills necessary to navigate on coastal waters, especially when paddling in challenging conditions like those common in Maine, such as strong winds, swift currents, and fog. Students will learn various approaches to navigating with a chart and compass, and gain firsthand experience using these skills while paddling on Casco Bay. They will learn and practice taking bearings, dead reckoning, triangulation, crossing boat channels, paddling in low visibility and using aids to navigation. After gaining familiarity with the key navigation tools, resources, and skills during the first day of the course, students will plan a trip for the second day that will give them opportunities to practice what they have learned.
Roughwater Weekend will put you between a rock and a hard place, literally! Over this two day session students will have opportunities to gain experience with rock gardening, surfing, reading roughwater environments, risk assessment, and roughwater rescue techniques. We will paddle in Casco Bay and in the waters surrounding Richmond Island, seeking out opportunities to gain comfort in roughwater and experience with surfing and rock gardening. Expect to get wet! We will wear helmets at all times when paddling in roughwater, and they will be provided for those who don’t own one.
Expedition Weekend focuses on the process of planning and executing longer distance sea kayak tours. Students will spend the first morning planning a route to an island in Casco Bay that the group will camp on that night. Along the way, students will gain experience with key expedition skills, including effectively packing a kayak, meal planning, emergency equipment and communications, gear repair, efficient long-distance paddling technique and more. The group will spend the night camping at an island campsite, with all meals included in the cost of the trip. Tents are also available at no cost for students who need one, and sleeping bags and pads are available for a small fee. This weekend is the perfect way to dip your toes in the water of multi-day touring!
Please Note: This is an overnight workshop that includes one night of camping
Other Multi-day Workshops with Portland Paddle
This intensive course is designed to prepare students for the state testing process involved in becoming a licensed Maine Sea Kayak Guide. Although our course is focused on the goal of passing the state guide exam, we also intend for students to develop skills and knowledge that will make them better paddlers and more competent outdoor leaders. The course is designed to be enjoyable and educational for anyone with prior sea kayaking experience who is interested in topics ranging from marine navigation to effective paddling instruction. Please keep in mind that if you successfully take this class and pass the exam that does not necessarily mean you are a competent guide. Many individuals may need additional practice and study before they are ready to professionally lead trips. This course is also open to and an excellent choice for anyone looking to deepen their kayaking and group management skills, even if they do not intend to become a licensed guide.
The course will start with a one-hour course orientation that will take place virtually on Zoom. The rest of the course will take place in person over the following two weekends. Roughly half of the course will take place on the ocean and the rest will take place in a classroom setting in Portland, with one pool session during the first weekend. Portland Paddle can provide kayaks and paddling gear for students to use during the course at no extra cost, or students can use their own.
Portland Paddle is teaming up with local yoga teacher Sarah Graham of Wild Craft Yoga and Healing Arts to bring you this fun-filled Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). This hands- on course is designed to teach students how to safely and effectively teach SUP Yoga. It covers equipment, technique, safety protocols and yoga styles. You’ll learn how to properly handle, manage, and assemble all equipment for SUP Yoga, including boards, fins, anchors, paddles, and accessories. Sarah, an experienced Maine Guide, will teach you SUP paddle technique, as well as basic water safety and regulations, which are critical to minimizing the risks that come with doing yoga while floating. You’ll encounter examples of real-life scenarios involving safety and etiquette and you’ll get practice dealing with them.
In addition to basic pranayama techniques and an anatomy overview, the course will cover how to teach two different styles of SUP Yoga: Gentle SUP Yoga and Flow SUP Yoga. There will be particular focus on proper yoga alignment, sound teaching methodology, SUP Yoga for the SUP athlete, and the use of yogic philosophy. We will also discuss the business of SUP Yoga, including how to market your instruction effectively. Yoga teachers are eligible to earn 20 hours in Continuing Education credits from Yoga Alliance. This course is also open to individuals who are not yoga teachers but are looking to deepen their yoga practice with SUP Yoga or hone their paddling skills.
Weekend Workshop Instructors
Suzanne has been guiding and teaching since 1996 and is a Master Maine Guide with American Canoe Association Coastal Kayak Level 4 and SUP Level 2 Instructor certifications. “Helping someone master skills and gain a sense of comfort and connection with the ocean brings me tremendous joy!” she says. Suzanne has paddled the entire length of the coast of Maine three times, canoed a number of remote expeditions, and has summited all of NH’s 48 4000 footers in winter!
Janet bought her first sea kayak in 1993 and hasn’t stopped since! The grand-daughter of a sea captain, she loves the wild beauty and challenge of the open ocean and is thrilled to be able to share her knowledge and enthusiasm for sea kayaking with paddlers of all ages and skill levels. She kayaked the entire Maine coast in 2020 and is a licensed Maine Guide and an ACA-certified Level 3 Coastal Kayak Instructor. In addition to her time in sea kayaks, Janet is also an accomplished canoeist, who has completed a number of expeditions on rivers in Maine, the Everglades in Florida, and more. Janet is currently pursuing L4 Instructor status in both coastal kayaking and river canoeing. In addition, Janet is the former president of the Southern Maine Sea Kayaking Network and serves as a Trustee for the Maine Island Trail Association.
Joe is a Master Maine Sea Kayak Guide, an American Canoe Association L4 Coastal Kayak Instructor, and a wilderness first responder. Joe has paddled expeditions as far away as Fiji and Zambia, has through-paddled the coast of Maine, and section-paddled from New Hampshire to Nova Scotia, and holds the speed record for the fastest paddle of the Maine coast (just over 4 days!). Joe enjoys bringing people of all walks and strokes of life into the marine environment, and he often leads paddlers to his favorite place in the world; the Cushing Island Cliffs, a mere three miles from Portland, where guillemots nest above the wild open sea.
Dan hails from North Carolina and got stoked on paddling after watching the whitewater events in the 1996 Olympics. His favorite places to paddle are Wilson Creek and Shackleford Banks in North Carolina. Dan is an ACA Level 4 Coastal Kayak Instructor, Level 2 SUP Instructor and a former L4 Whitewater Kayak and L5 Swiftwater Rescue Instructor. Dan sea kayaked the length of the east coast of the United States in 2009 with his wife and in 2018 was the first person to SUP the coast of Maine. He also really enjoys surfing and canoeing as much as possible.
Sarah is a paddleboard instructor, Maine Sea Kayak Guide, Yoga teacher and Yoga practitioner of over 20 years. She started off canoeing at age 6 and picked up other water sports in her adult years, including paddleboarding, kayaking, and surfing. She is an E-RYT 500 through Yoga Alliance, an ASI Level 1 SUP Instructor, a horticultural technician, and a Wilderness FIrst Responder with Herbal Medicine endorsement.
Zack is the owner and cofounder of Portland Paddle, and comes from a family of Maine Guides! He’s been paddling on whitewater and the ocean since he was 11. During his 23 years as a guide, Zack has led countless kayaking and canoeing trips throughout the coast of Maine, and in Mexico, British Columbia, Ontario and Alaska. He is a master Maine Guide, an ACA Level 4 kayaking instructor and a Wilderness First Responder. When Zack isn’t running Portland Paddle, he’s a journalist, writer and teacher, and enjoys all forms of paddling, ice skating, and skiing.
To learn about more of our excellent team of staff, guides, and instructors check our team bios page, and keep an eye on this blog for expert advice, in depth interviews, and more!