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Rock Gardening Clinic

Quick Details

Paddler Ages 16+

Go paddling into the the waves and whitewater along the most exposed coastlines in Portland, ME!

Wherever ocean swell crashes into rocky shorelines there are opportunities for sea kayakers to find play and challenge. It’s called rock gardening, and it involves paddling into the the waves and whitewater along the most exposed coastlines. Like whitewater kayakers, rock gardening sea kayakers are drawn to exciting and dynamic waters that require a wide range of paddling skills. Instead of avoiding these turbulent waters, this workshop will lead you right into them.

This workshop is solely for intermediate or advanced sea kayakers with self-rescue skills and experience with bracing and edging. Portland Paddle will provide helmets and other paddling gear for all students who do not have their own. We will choose the location for this course two days in advance and notify students by email. This will allow us to choose the best location based on surf and wind conditions.

Also available as a private class for individuals and small groups with the requisite experience! Please call or email to schedule.


This clinic will be taught by one or more of the following instructors!

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 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 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.