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Roughwater Rescue Clinic

Quick Details

Paddler Ages 16+

Hone Your Rescue Skills in Roughwater Conditions

Most sea kayakers learn rescue techniques in calm conditions, but when you actually need to use a rescue it’s likely you’ll be exposed to waves, winds and currents. This half-day training, led by our most experienced instructors, offers kayakers the opportunity to practice rescues in challenging conditions. It’s also an opportunity to gain comfort paddling in roughwater. We’ll venture into some areas near Richmond Island were we’re sure to find breaking waves, rocky coastline and ocean swell. Instructors will build on students’ knowledge of basic rescue techniques by modeling advanced or alternative methods of rescuing paddlers in rough seas. Everyone will get plenty of opportunities to practice rescues and instructors will also help students improve their roughwater boat handling.

Course Requirements

This course is appropriate for intermediate- or advanced-level paddlers. Students should be very comfortable with wet exits and T-rescues before participating in this course. We suggest taking our “Intro to Sea Kayak Rescues” course first if you have never received instruction on sea kayak rescues.

Other Roughwater Training Options

We are now offering a Weekend Workshop  focused on roughwater skills. We also offer private lessons with a focus on roughwater training.


This course meets at Portland Paddle’s Crescent Beach State Park location. We encourage students to use their own kayaks for this course, but there is no additional charge if you need to use one of ours.


This workshop will be taught by one or more of these 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.