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Maine Sea Kayak Guide Training, 2023

May 11, 7:30pm-8:30pm: Course orientation on Zoom

May 13-14 & May 20-21, 8:45am to 5pm


Please complete each of the following before our first in-person meeting:

Applying to take the Guide exam

Our guide training course prepares you for the guide exam, but we do not administer the exam and have no role in the process of scheduling the exam. You must apply to take the exam when you are ready to do so. Please read this webpage for the latest information on this process. Unfortunately, there are sometimes unpredictable delays and some guide candidates are not able to get licensed as quickly as they anticipate.

There are several steps involved in the process:

  1. a close up of a personMake an appointment to get fingerprinted so that the state can complete a criminal background check.  We suggest doing this as soon as possible if you are hoping to guide this year. Do it right now!
  2. Ensure that you have up-to-date First Aid/CPR credentials; sign up for a certification class if necessary. We recommend Wilderness First Aid training, but it is not required; only basic first aid (e.g. standard Red Cross training) is required to get licensed.
  3. Thirty days after you are fingerprinted submit the guide exam application to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife with the $100 fee.
  4. Wait to hear back about your test date. If you do not hear anything after 10+ days, call to check in. If you can’t make the test date ask them to reschedule you.
  5. Head to Augusta to take the oral and written exam on your test date. In most cases you can take both parts of the exam on the same day.
  6. If you pass you must then pay the $135 fee to receive a 5-year license (which can be renewed without retaking the exam).

Sea Kayak Guide Resources

We will be using these resources during this course and we may add others to this page during the course.

Nautical Charts

  • NOAA Chart Viewer: Access any U.S. nautical chart using this webpage from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Use the navigation tabs at the top of the map to select the file format.
  • Casco Bay Chart PDF: The main nautical chart we are using for the training, though we will also use charts for other parts of the Maine coast.
  • Cape Elizabeth Chart, showing Crescent Beach: We plan to spend one day paddling in this area, which does not fully appear on the Casco Bay chart.


  • Live Global Wind Map: A live map showing the current direction that winds are flowing throughout the world.
  • Marine Forecast: The marine forecast for our local region, broken down into specific sections of the coast and offshore waters.
  • Data from Buoy 44007 in Casco Bay: This is a link to the data page of just one of many observation buoys that are scattered throughout the Gulf of Maine.
  • Windy App: A very useful app focused on wind conditions, both current and forecasted.
  • Beaufort Wind Scale: A system used to categorize the strength of wind conditions.
  • Halfway Rock Light webcam: One of many webcams throughout the coast that can be used to gauge current sea conditions.
  • Portland Head Light webcam: One of many webcams throughout the coast that can be used to gauge current sea conditions.


Sea Kayaking Skills and Instruction

  • Paddling Skills Checklist: An overview of sea kayaking techniques.
  • Paddling Forwards and Backwards: A detailed guide to forward and backward strokes from Kayarchy, a terrific website for all things sea kayaking.
  • Turning a Sea Kayak: A guide to sweep strokes and other dynamics of turning from Kayarchy.
  • Draw Strokes: A guide to another essential stroke from Kayarchy.
  • Sea Kayak Rescue Steps: A basic overview of the most commonly used capsize recovery techniques.
  • Portland Paddle’s Paddle & Safety Talk Outline: Every guide must start a guided trip with a brief discussion of safety concerns and instruction on key paddling skills. This document outlines the main points Portland Paddle guides cover.
  • American Canoe Association: The primary paddlesports association in the U.S. has a certification system for kayaking instructors that is internationally recognized. One of the best ways to develop your skills and grow as a guide is to take an ACA instructor certification workshop. Use the website to find upcoming courses.

Safety & Communications

Laws & Regulations


Coastline Access & Camping

Sea Kayaking Incidents & Related Readings

Wildlife & Environment

Connecting with the Sea Kayaking Community


Additional Course Materials

Sample Written Exam

Practice Written Exam: We suggest you complete this exam all at once without looking up any answers.

Practice Exam Answers

Navigation Exercises

Navigation Exercises: Practice taking bearings, measuring distance and using coordinates. (Click here for answer sheet)

Plotting a Course Exercise: Practice plotting a course. (Click here for answer sheet)

Triangulation Exercise: Practice identifying your position using triangulation. (Click here for answer sheet)

Slide Presentation

Click here to download the slides from our first weekend in PDF form.

2022 Guide Training Itinerary

Please make sure that you are able to focus on this course during the times when we are scheduled to meet. This course will require your attention and energy. The itinerary below is likely to change based on weather conditions and other scheduling logistics. We will provide updates on any important changes as soon as possible. 

Thursday, April 21 – Zoom session, 7:30pm-8:30pm

Here’s the link to join our online session:

  • Welcome, introductions and goal-setting
  • Overview of course itinerary and logistics
  • History of the registered Maine Guide and how the testing process works 
  • What it means to be a guide 


Saturday, April 23, 8:45 – 5pm

Meeting location: Maine Island Trail Association, 100 Kensington Street, Second Floor, Portland

We plan to spend the day at the MITA offices covering some of the following topics: 

  • Understanding the Marine Environment
  • Sea kayak navigation
  • Discussion of real life sea kayaking incidents
  • Plotting a course 


Sunday, April 24, 8:45 – 5pm

Morning meeting location: Maine Island Trail Association, 100 Kensington Street, Second Floor, Portland

Afternoon meeting location: East End Beach, at the end of Cutter Street in Portland. This is a 5-minute drive from the MITA office. Be ready to paddle. 

We plan to spend the morning indoors at the MITA offices and then head onto the water after lunch. 


Saturday, April 30, 8:45am-5pm

Meeting location: Crescent Beach State Park, 109 Bowery Beach Road, Cape Elizabeth

We’ll spend the day at this site that offers a dynamic paddling environment with exposure to the open ocean. We will be on the water for much of the day. There are changing rooms and public bathrooms at the park. Please be prepared to show your confirmation email for this training to the rangers at the entrance so they will let you in for free.  


Sunday, May 1, 8:45am to 5pm

Meeting location: Riverton Community Center, 212 Canco Road, Portland

We’ll spend the morning in a classroom. Several recently-licensed guides will share their experience with the guide exam and offer some tips and wisdom for guides-in-training. After lunch we’ll use the indoor pool at the community center to practice rescues and other techniques. Come prepared to paddle.