Just about anyone can paddle a kayak on Lake Union after a short orientation and have a great time. To paddle safely and confidently in the marine waters of the Pacific Northwest, however, requires considerably more skill and knowledge. Paddlers should know how to re-enter the kayak from the water, have a good grasp of the strokes including bracing, understand and be able to predict tides and currents, and have a basic knowledge of marine weather. For those who wish to venture off shore, competence in surf is essential. The following classes are designed to help the neophyte paddler achieve these goals.

Basic Strokes back to the top

This class is our basic water session for beginners who are just checking out the sport, and want to learn some proper paddling technique. We encourage students to also take the Rescue class, and consider our Coping with Current and Navigation class to round out their basic skills. Students in this class will practice basic boat handling skills, including an efficient forward stroke, turning strokes, reverse strokes, braces, and moving the boat laterally. The instructors and student volunteers will demonstrate rescue techniques at the end of class, earlier if necessary! This class will prepare you for sheltered paddling in recreational kayaks or sea kayaks. To gain more open water skills, take the Fundamentals of Sea Kayaking Class, or the 5-day Total Immersion Sea Kayak Class, which is basically a longer edition of the Fundamentals of Sea Kayaking combined with the Surf Techniques class.

COST: $60.00

See Calendar for dates

Fundamentals of Sea Kayaking (FOSK) back to the top

Looking for a great way to enter the world of Sea Kayaking? Paddling the inland waterways of the Pacific Northwest can be fun and safe, providing you have the necessary knowledge and skills. This 4-session class gives you three lake sessions to learn stroke and rescue techniques, a current lecture where you will learn what currents are and how they work in theory, and a daytrip where you get to practice all of the above in real-life situations. You will learn about the boats and related equipment, proper clothing, safety considerations, navigational tools, and resource material. You will learn how to rescue yourself and others, and how to prevent capsizing by using bracing strokes. During the stroke sessions you will learn how to use the paddling strokes for maximum efficiency and stability. For our saltwater outing, we will choose a location where we can practice working with, against, and across currents, in a tightly controlled situation. The emphasis of this class is to build good paddling skills along with good sea-sense. No experience necessary, but be prepared to get wet! This class will prepare you to deal with paddling inland waters in moderate current and wind conditions. Must be at least 18 for the Deception Pass outing, the first 3 lake sessions of the class can be taken by those 16yrs and up.
To upgrade your skills after this class, take the Surf Techniques class or the Whitewater Fever class: both of these will make you more comfortable in rougher water, and improve your boat handlinig skills immensely! The Whitewater Fever includes 2 pool sessions to learn/work on the Eskimo Roll and bracing techniques. See Pictures for some of the fun! Here is a useful handout of things we cover in the class, directions, and other things you should know

FORMAT: Evening Lake Session Wed and Thursday 6:00-8:30pm at NWOC. Lake session/Lecture 9am-1:30 at NWOC on Saturday, all day Sunday outing (leave Seatle 8am, return by 6pm).

COST: $245.00
Kayak Rental: $50.00
Drysuit Rental: $30.00

See Calendar for dates

FOSK Refresher Class back to the top

Fosk Refresher. This class is for our former Fundamentals of Sea Kayaking, or Total Immersion class students, as a refresher for their kayaking skills. There are sessions offered on the lake, and at Deception Pass- sign up for each individually as your schedule permits.
During the Saturday morning session on the lake, we will review and practice the strokes, bracing, and rescue techniques.
At the Pass, we will practice current maneuvers. Playing in the currents, eddies and wave action prepares you for most current challenges you will face. We will practice rescues and other techniques as necessary. It is always better to practice these scenarios before you might actually need them, and knowing them can help you plan better so they might never happen! This outing will be fun, challenging and educational.
Drysuits are mandatory, and we will provide helmets. These are offered in conjunction with our FOSK classes (same dates), so you can signup for any lake session Wed (rescues), Thurs (strokes), or Saturday (strokes and rescues), and/or the Sunday Deception Pass trip.

Prerequisites: Fundamentals of Sea Kayaking or Total Immersion Sea Kayaking, or equivalent with verification. You provide: Warm Paddling clothing (a list will be provided upon registration, along with directions)

COST: Lake Session:$70.00/session includes boat, gear and drysuit
Deception Pass Sunday:$85.00
Kayak Rental for Dec Pass: $20.00
Drysuit Rental for Dec Pass: $20.00

See Calendar for dates

Basic Rescue back to the top
Basic Rescue. The Basic Rescue class is a must for the sea kayaker. During the 2-1/2 hour session, the students will be practicing re-entry techniques and some bracing. Both self-rescue and assisted rescue procedures will be covered. Students will be provided drysuits and booties for the lake classes. You should wear a bathing suit or shorts for the pool, and for the lake, add synthetic top and long johns, wool, or synthetic sweater (medium to heavyweight, depending on how easily you get cold), synthetic socks under your booties, and if you wear glasses, a retaining strap that is tight enough it won't allow your glasses to go for a dive to the bottom of the lake.

COST: $65.00

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Total Immersion Sea Kayaking 5-Day School back to the top

Due to scheduling conflicts, the Total Immersion Sea Kayaking won't be possible this year. Check with us next year, it's a blast!

COST: $695.00, $600 w/ your own equipment

See Calendar for dates

Surf Techniques for Kayakers back to the top

Where does one go for a little excitement during the hot summer months when the rivers get lazy and Puget Sound becomes glassy? The beautiful Washington Coast, of course. This class is a sure-fired way to learn how to brace, negotiate surf and develop confidence in your paddling skills. And besides that IT'S REALLY FUN! Great for whitewater and sea kayakers alike. We concentrate on lots of bracing practice in the surf zone, where you will learn what it really means to tilt your boat and moon the beach! Once you can handle the waves breaking on you from both sides, you can then move on to going out through the surf zone, and practice coming in between the waves for a dry landing, or surfing the waves in for a more exhilarating and dynamic ride. We will be situated on a gently sloping sand beach, so that any swimmers will find it a simple matter to stand up, collect their gear, and walk in to shore. Students must have taken a FOSK or bracing and rescue class, or their equivalent, prior to this class. The best and most fun way to learn bracing and overall boat control there is. After this class you will be much more comfortable paddling in rough water. To upgrade your skills, take the Whitewater Fever Class or the Total Immersion Whitewater 5-day to learn the eskimo roll, hone your bracing techniques, and get even better at your boat-handling skills. See Pictures for some of the fun!

FORMAT: Lake session/Pep talk at NWOC 6:00-8pm followed by Saturday and Sunday on the beach. No Beginners! Must know bracing and rescue techniques.

COST: $195.00
Kayak Rental: $80.00
Drysuit Rental: $20.00

See Calendar for dates

Coping with Current and Kayak Navigation back to the top

We will spend some classroom time getting to know the concepts and tools of basic navigation, then take to the water on the 2nd day to put some of this knowledge to the test. We will follow compass courses, calculate our speed in knots, and adjust all the calculations on the fly as we deal with possible traffic and wind. Making sensible decisions based on knowledge of water and weather conditions can make all the difference between a safe, enjoyable outing and a struggle for survival. In this class you will learn the basics of chart reading, how to take a compass bearing, calculate tides and currents, identify hazards, and use it on an everyday outing. You can take one or both days of the class, but we recommend doing both to get any real benefit out of this class. In order for this class to benefit you, you must practice the skills everytime you go out-charting your course, figuring the tides and currents, and using your compass. Learning to navigate on the fly from your kayak comes with the experience of using the tools in the real world, and improvising once you have a firm grasp of the basic concepts.

COST: $60.00

See Calendar for dates

Northwest Outdoor Center 2100 Westlake Ave N Ste 1 Seattle, Wa 98109 206-281-9694 mail@nwoc.com