Smart Start: Introduction to Sea Kayaking and Capsize Recovery

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Learn the basics of sea kayaking and get comfortable in a kayak. After an introduction on land, you'll head out on the protected water of Port Gamble Bay to learn essential strokes, skills, and capsize recovery.
info Kayaks must be fully compartmentalized (watertight bulkheads front & back). Those not renting will also need to bring a life jacket, bilge pump & paddle float.

Why take our introduction kayak class? By taking this course you are setting yourself up to spend more time out on the water by reducing fatigue through efficient paddling technique and establishing good habits in regard to posture and boat fit that will dramatically increase your comfort while out on the water! This course provides an entry level kayaker a comprehensive introduction to kayaking, including capsize recovery. We will work to provide our paddlers with the tools and education needed to safely and efficiently explore the diverse waters of the Puget Sound and beyond.

Your instructor will cover basic kayak safety, paddle strokes, how to fit a kayak and personal flotation device, proper stroke techniques, kayak nomenclature, basic design, body dynamics for efficient strokes, wet exits, capsize recovery (solo and assisted), how to choose a kayak for your needs, getting into and out of a kayak and other important basic skills to give you a strong foundation for a lifetime of paddling.

Dry Suits are provided for all registrations! *No experience is necessary!

Not able to make it this time, but still want to have some fun out on the water? Click here for our Summer Calendar!

What's Covered:

  • Kayak nomenclature & basic design
  • Basic safety considerations
  • Forward Stroke
  • Reverse Stroke
  • Sweep Strokes, Forward and Reverse (Turning)
  • Draw Strokes, Static and Sculling (Move the Kayak laterally)
  • Wet Exits
  • Capsize Recovery (Paddle Float Rescue, T-Rescue, Cowboy Rescue and Sling Rescue)
  • Kayak carries 
  • Loading and unloading a kayak
  • Launching and landing

What to Bring:

  • Full water bottle(s)
  • Lunch
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun glasses with strap
  • Weather-appropriate clothing
  • Complete change of clothes (you can keep these in your car)
  • Jacket (Windproof/Waterproof)
  • Feel free to bring a camera, but make sure it's in a waterproof case.
  • Insulation to be worn under your dry suit (long sleeves and pants. Synthetic materials are the best)
  • Towel
  • Sense of Adventure!

Where to Meet:

Olympic Outdoor Center Port Gamble

32379 N Rainier Ave Port Gamble WA 98364

We will meet at our beach launch; from Rainier Ave., take a right at the stop sign, head down the hill and you will see our shipping container straight ahead through the gate.


Class starts at 9:00am, but please give yourself a little time to park and change. We will wrap up at 4pm.

We will start class on the Beach. There we will go over Kayak nomenclature, proper kayak and PFD fit and answer any questions that may arise. From the there we will make our way onto the water and paddle within the protection of the break water to cover basic strokes, the environment and safety.

We will break for lunch around noon to refuel. Stop by the Port Gamble General Store for grab and go goodies like Sandwiches and an assortment of fruit and drinks. Or grab an espresso if you are in need of a quick pick me up. The General Store has treats for all your dietary needs!

Return to the beach learn and practice wet exits and capsize recovery. This class does involve intentionally capsizing and exiting your kayak - *you will go into the water. Once we all have had a chance to practice the learned recovery techniques we will make our way back to the beach and learn how to properly carry our kayaks and how to safely and effectively load and unload them from a vehicle.

What makes Olympic Outdoor Center a good choice?

  • Our staff are professionally Trained.
  • Our Instructors are CPR and First Aid Certified.
  • We keep a low Instructor to student ratio for lots of individual instruction.
  • Olympic Outdoor Center has been fostering paddling enthusiasts for over 25 years!
Note: Recreational kayaks (under 12') are not allowed in this class. All kayaks must be fully compartmentalized (bulkheads or flotation front & back).
Paddlers who bring their own equipment will also need to bring a Life Jacket, a Bilge Pump and a Paddle Float.