Useful Links / Articles

Those focused on building their paddling skills may find it helpful to view their development with the four stages of competence concept. Recognizing one’s gaps in knowledge and searching for ways to fill those areas with knowledge is a lifelong process. One can learn to recognize different areas to work on and see the progress in paddling skills. (


ACA Skill Level Assessments: the American Canoe Association (ACA) Skills Level Assessments describe paddling compentency. The assessments help paddlers develop a clear progression of classes and training needed to advance safely through this fun and challenging sport. a great forum of how-to articles and videos, new and used gear, product reviews, and paddling community discussions.

Kayaking Expert Skills Center: this site is maintained by Atlantic Kayak Tours, Inc., one of the largest paddle sport companies on the east coast. The Expert Center is a wealth of information, covering topics from boat repair, safety and various strokes. Check it out!

OOPS Learning Resources – the Oregon Ocean Paddling Society has assembled an exhaustive collection of learning resources on its website. Especially useful for new paddlers, there are great articles and videos that will start you off right. Thank you, OOPS!

Paddling between Prisoner Rock in Trinidad, CA, 2019.

Web Articles / Clips

Cold Water Boot Camp USA: cold water is certainly refreshing on a hot day, but it can also lead to hypothermia, which can kill. This video provides an excellent discussion of cold water effects and why, as paddlers, we must dress for water temperature and not air temperature.

Outfitting Cockpits for a Better Fit: you need to “wear” your kayak for good boat control. This article explains how to outfit your boat for comfort and performance.

Articles and Handouts (printable)

Listed below are several articles to download in PDF format that can help build upon one’s knowledge base of paddling.

  • Sea Conditions Rating System: ever wonder how crazy the conditions were during your last paddle off the coast in the middle of a winter storm? This rating system will put that question to rest.
  • Kayak Camping Primer, by Marna Powell, does a wonderful job laying out all of the considerations when preparing for an extended camping adventure in your boat.
  • Adaptive Paddling Tips, by Marna Powell, discusses how learning to paddle with good form and technique helps solve and prevent many physical discomforts.
  • Safety on the Water, by John Gahn, points out that boaters need to develop the ability to assess the water and weather conditions, as well as their skill and ability, in order to make safe decisions for themselves and fellow boaters.
  • Encounters, by Michael Morris, describes his shark encounter while paddling the Trinidad coast. Yes, they are here!
  • Paddling in Wind, by Greg Bundros, integrates wind effects observed on water and land to the classic Beaufort Wind Scale, which is the standardized description for weather observations, including wind speed.
  • Federal Requirements and Safety Tips for Recreational Boats
  • Hand Signals for Sea Kayakers, by Eric Soares, is a useful description of how to communicate when conditions don’t allow the use of anything else but your hands.
  • Side Hit in the Surf Zone, by Wayne Horodowich, is an incredibly useful article the breaks down the fundamental steps of being hit on the side by a breaking wave. A must read.

Coaching Tips from River and Ocean. The following articles have been reproduced with permission from River and Ocean. They are a collective of certified paddlesports instructors based in the Bay Area and Sacramento area.

  • The Extended Paddle Roll, by Sean Morley: describes the benefits of extending your paddle during a roll to increase success and lessen strain on your body.
  • Finding and Interpreting Your Surf Forecast, by Kelly Marie Henry: covers a lot of things you want to consider when planning to hit the surf zone.
  • Understanding Weather-Cocking and Skegs, by Bill Vonnegut: provides a wonderful explanation of how wind effects your boat and how your skeg can be used to counteract the wind effects.
  • sdrawkcaB gnilddaP, by Sean Morley: Why in the world would you want to paddle backwards? Read this article to find out why.
  • Need a Tow?, by Jennifer H. Yearley: Describes towing systems and why it’s important to have them and know how to use them.