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Intro to Sea Kayaking, Part 1

Quick Details

Student Ages 15+

Learn the Fundamentals of Sea Kayaking

This is the course to take if you are new to sea kayaking — or if you started sea kayaking without gaining a solid foundation of skills and knowledge. You’ll learn all the basics with a small group of other paddlers in the protected waters near our East End Beach site in Portland. Your instructor will get your group started onshore with a discussion of equipment and the risks and hazards kayakers face on the Maine coast. Then you’ll get fitted into kayaks and head onto Casco Bay to learn proper paddling technique for the essential strokes of the sport.

Your instructor will do their best to customize the class to fit with each students’ goals, experience level and interests. At some point during the class you’ll have a chance to perform a wet exit, which is the simple technique used to get out of your kayak after a capsize. You are likely to get wet, so we recommend wearing a wetsuit. If you do not have your own, we will provide one for you.

The Part II class is offered every other weekend and we recommend taking the two courses during the same summer, ideally followed by Intro to Sea Kayak Rescues.

More Info


This lesson will be taught by one or more of these instructors.

a person wearing a hat


Janet bought her first sea kayak in 1993 after a few years of whitewater paddling and many years of hiking, backpacking, and long-distance bike touring, including a solo cross-country trip. 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 Instructor. In addition, Janet is president of the Southern Maine Sea Kayaking Network and serves as a Trustee for the Maine Island Trail Association.

a man riding a surfboard on top of a mountain


Erin, Portland Paddle co-founder and guide, grew up exploring New Hampshire’s waterways by canoe and kayak. When she isn’t on Casco Bay guiding trips or at home taking care of her two young boys, she’s Development Manager at SailMaine, Portland’s community sailing center. Erin is a Wilderness First Responder, a Registered Maine Guide, and an ACA-certified instructor.

a man riding a surfboard in the water


Trips Manager

Eric grew up right here in Portland and first got excited about sea kayaking after a week long trip with a high school program. He is passionate about environmental sustainability and social justice, and really just wants the world to be a happy place for everyone. When not paddling on the ocean or rivers, Eric most enjoys reading, writing, mountain biking, and snowboarding. He is an ACA lvl 3 sea kayak instructor. His craziest adventure yet was 104 days paddling the Mississippi River from source to sea.


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Alex has been sea kayaking since 1998 and is a Registered Maine Guide.  He loves paddling Greenland technique and you’ll see him using a “skinny stick” on the water. He has kayaked in Greece, Australia, and the length of the Maine coast yet his favorite spot is right by home … Five Islands Maine … In the winter he works as a Ski Patroller in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He is a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) and is certified in Advanced Wilderness Life Support. Sometimes rumored to quote Homer’s Odyssey while paddling … Alex is passionate about mountains, oceans, reading, and sharing the outdoors with friends both old and new…

a man wearing a hat


Dan hails from North Carolina and got stoked on paddling after watching the 1996 Olympics (he had never seen whitewater kayaking before). His favorite places to paddle are Wilson Creek and Shackleford Banks in North Carolina. Currently Dan is an ACA Level 4 Open Water Sea Kayak Instructor, Level 2 SUP Instructor (former L4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor and L5 Swiftwater Rescue Instructor), and Maine Sea Kayak Guide. 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.

a person riding a surf board on a body of water


Noah is a Portland native and has been kayaking since he was in high school. He is a Registered Maine Guide and has his Wilderness First Aid Certification. His favorite places to paddle are Cow Island and Long Island right here in Casco Bay. Noah loves learning new skills and doing Greenland rolls in his kayak. When he is not sea kayaking, you can find Noah running, biking, or surfing.

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Emily discovered her love for the ocean at a young age sailing throughout Casco Bay with her family. She’s been a part of Portland Paddle since 2016 and is a certified Wilderness First Responder, ACA Level 2 Essentials of Kayak Touring Instructor, and Registered Maine Guide. When she is not exploring the waters she enjoys running, skiing, camping and just about anything in the great outdoors! During the year she works as an Elementary School Physical Education teacher, helping to inspire youth to do the same.

a man riding on the back of a boat in the water


Suzanne fell hopelessly in love with kayaking in 1980. In 2017 she discovered stand up paddle boards and now has two favorite ways to play on the water. Suzanne has been guiding and teaching since 1996 and is a Master Maine Guide with ACA 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. She says, “I really hope to paddle the whole coast again. It’s endlessly challenging and inspiring but this summer my sites are set on paddling among the icebergs of the north coast of Newfoundland”

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera


Joel is a Registered Maine Guide, ACA Essentials of Kayak Touring Instructor, and a Wilderness First Responder. Joel lives in Portland, ME and enjoys getting salty in Casco Bay and kayak camping along the Maine coast. In the winter, Joel is an avid downhill skier and has coached youth freestyle ski programs for a decade in both Maine and Colorado.

a person riding a surf board on a body of water


Joe is a Master Maine Sea Kayak Guide, an open-water sea kayak instructor with the American Canoe Association, and a wilderness first responder. He is also a licensed clinical social worker, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer (Zambia 07-09). 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. 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.

a man rowing a boat in a body of water


Melanie started kayaking many years ago in the shadow of pine trees in cool New England waterways. But it wasn’t until moving to a desert island off the coast of Los Angeles that she began paddling on the sea. She learned to love exploring by water while paddling around this island, camping on deserted beaches and surfing through sea caves. She became a Registered Maine Sea Kayak Guide in 2018 when she spent her first summer in Maine. Melanie is also an ACA Level 2 Coastal Kayak instructor.

a man riding on top of a body of water


Zack, owner and co-founder of Portland Paddle, grew up in Old Town, Maine along the shores of the Penobscot River. He’s been paddling on whitewater and the ocean since he was 11. During his 17 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.

a man riding on the back of a boat in a body of water


A resident on Peaks Island, Peter enjoys great access to paddling along the Maine Coast. A registered Maine Recreation and Sea Kayak guide, he is on the water most days – guiding for Portland Paddle, or on his paddleboard or kayak with other Peaks paddlers. Peter is an ACA Level 2 Coastal sea kayak instructor, an ACA Stand up Paddleboard instructor, and a Wilderness First Responder. In the winter he works as a ski instructor.

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Caitlin is a Registered Maine Guide and ACA certified Stand Up Paddleboard instructor. She loves to explore Casco Bay and other surrounding areas while meeting beginner and experienced SUP and kayakers from all over on the tours. In her downtime, Caitlin also enjoys skiing, hiking, and hanging out with her dogs.

a man riding on the back of a boat in the water


Sam is a Wilderness First Responder, registered Maine sea kayak guide & pursuing her ACA level 2 Instructor Certification. She fell in love with sea kayaking after her many paddles on the Great Bay in New Hampshire. Sharing her passion for the outdoors is what brought her into the outdoor industry. When she is not paddling or working for Portland Paddle, she is off hiking in the White Mountains, backcountry skiing or road biking the coast.