Sea Kayaking Courses on Lake Superior and in Minnesota

kayaker in balance brace during lesson

We offer two introductory sea kayaking courses in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Level 1: Introduction to Kayak focuses on getting you up to speed with the basics of kayaking, whether in a recreational kayak or sea kayak. Level 2: Essential of Coastal Kayaking concentrates on the sea kayaking side of kayaking. These kayaking classes are taught by an American Canoe Association-certified coastal kayaking instructor with a minimum of two years and 1,000 miles of kayaking experience on the Great Lakes or the oceans. Our Level 1 & 2 courses take place on an inland lake near Grand Marais. Usually we use Devil Track Lake, but the location can vary based on the weather conditions.

We offer intermediate sea kayaking classes in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Our Level 3 Basic Strokes and Rescues sea kayaking course is designed to introduce the basic of sea kayaking and safety to beginners. The Level 3: Coastal Kayak: Strokes & Maneuvers Refinement course helps you refine your strokes and maneuvers and can be taken at different levels of your skill development. Our ACA Level 4: Open Water Skills Sea Kayaking Course introduces new skills for open water and refines those that you already possess. Beginners can start with a Level 3 Basic Strokes and Rescues Course, but you should consider a Level 2: Essential of Coastal Kayaking course instead.

For those interested in learning to safely kayak on Lake Superior, you have the option of doing a Level 2 course in the Grand Marais harbor and surrounding area. Wetsuits are required on our Lake Superior trips. We highly recommend that you buy at least a drytop before attending a Level 2 course on the big lake. Ask about this option when you book your kayaking lesson.

kayak safety and rescue course in minnesota

During this kayaking course, essential safety skills are introduced to the student. This class focuses on assisted and self rescue, developing good judgment and use of safety gear, including paddle floats, rescue slings, VHF radios, and more. Most of this class is spent in the water practicing rescues. During the class, we follow the American Canoe Association Flatwater Kayak Safety and Rescue outline closely. If you need an ACA card to prove you’ve taken the course, we can provide one.

Description – Introduction to Kayaking Level 1

Introduction to Kayaking is a six hour course focusing on skills needed for any type of kayak. Presentations include dressing to paddle safely and potential paddling hazards. Simple rescues are demonstrated by the instructor. Students learn and practice paddling skills needed to maneuver safely and comfortably on still water.

This course is conducted on flat water and is applicable to all types of kayaks including sea kayaks, recreational and sit-on-top kayaks.

Course Outline: Introduction to Kayaking

Description – Essential of Coastal Kayaking Level 2

Essentials of Coastal Kayaking is an eight-hour course focused on learning to travel safely and efficiently by sea kayak. Students learn basic paddling strokes and maneuvering skills. And, there is more emphasis on practicing a simple rescue sequences, use of a compass (safety bearing), rules for paddling in channels with and without boat traffic, use of VHF radio and weather radio and other emergency equipment. The graduates should stay within swimming distance of shore in areas with minimal wind, waves, or current conditions. If you need an ACA card to prove you’ve taken the course, we can provide.

Course Outline: Essentials of Kayak Touring Class

American Canoe Association Level 1 and Level 2 Assessments

ACA Assessment courses are a tool to give you a clear idea of the progression of your skill development, and to provide evidence of your skill level — this is useful when signing up for guided trips or for determining whether or not you’re ready for a specific level of trip, i.e. some of our trips require Level 2 or 3 assessments or the equivalent. Before you assess, you need to be sure that you’re competent in all the skills listed on the assessment outline, which usually means having taken the corresponding level course and having practiced those skills outside the course. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to take a course and then immediately pass an assessment, unless you had prior skills and experience. Taking an assessment does not guarantee that you will pass. If you plan on doing an assessment, it’s best to put together and action plan with your instructor after you take the corresponding level course.

Upon successful completion of an assessment, we’ll submit the paperwork and you will receive official documentation of your level of skill from the ACA National Office.

Note: To receive Skills Assessment documentation, you must be a current ACA member.

Level 3 Basic Strokes & Rescues Sea Kayaking Course

During this Grand Marais sea kayaking course, you’ll learn how to properly fit and adjust your kayak to get the most control and comfort, how to use a spray skirt, how to safely enter and exit a kayak in a variety of situations. You’ll also learn how to use and control your paddle in a variety of basic strokes. Our emphasis is on safe, efficient and effective. During the rescue portion of the sea kayaking course, you’ll learn solo and assisted rescues and reentries. We’ll also discuss weather, waves and tides (if you’re planning on paddling outside of the Great Lakes). Other safety lessons will include risk management and trip planning.

Level 3 Strokes & Maneuvers Refinement Sea Kayaking Course

During the bulk of this sea kayaking course, you’ll work with one of our instructors to refine your strokes and make them more fluid, efficient and effective. We’ll use a variety of exercises to challenge and refine your paddle strokes, including linking strokes together to come up with efficient maneuvers. After practice, we’ll videotape tape you using your skills and afterward review the video for further refinements, so you can see what you’re doing while on the water. The instructor may also use video throughout the lesson if he or she feels it would be helpful.

  • Forward Stroke
  • Sweep Stroke
  • Reverse Strokes
  • Beam Draw (In water recovery)
  • Sculling Draw
  • Sculling for Support
  • Low Brace
  • High Brace
  • Low/High Brace Turn
  • Bow Rudder
  • Cross Bow Rudder
  • Stationary Draw
  • (Hanging Draw, Side Slip)
  • Stern Rudder

Level 4: Open Water Skills Sea Kayaking Course

This sea kayaking course is designed to help you build the skills required for safely traveling on the Great Lakes without a guide in a variety of conditions. During the course, you’ll learn more about edging and leaning to maneuver and correct your course and for balance, bracing and boat control. The instructor will also help you refine your forward stroke and teach you side slips. Over lunch, you’ll learn some basics of navigation and the rules for paddling in boat traffic. You’ll also learn the different methods of towing and have the chance to practice them. Rescues will be practiced in open water.

Level 3 and Level 4 ACA Kayaking Assessments

ACA assessments give you a clear view of your paddling progression and provide evidence of your skill level, which is helpful when picking trips that you want to take. Before you assess, make sure that you’re competent in the skills listed on the assessment outline, which means having taken the corresponding level course and having practiced those skills outside the course. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to take a Level 3 or Level 4 course and then immediately pass an assessment, unless you had prior skills and experience. Taking an assessment does not guarantee that you will pass. If you plan on doing an assessment, it’s best to put together and action plan with your instructor after you take the corresponding level course.

Upon successful completion of an assessment, we’ll submit the paperwork and you will receive official documentation of your level of skill from the ACA National Office.

Note: To receive Skills Assessment documentation, you must be a current ACA member.

Rates

2 to 5 people: $150 per person

General Info

Time: Varies (6 to 8 hours)
Age limit: 13 and up.
Skill level: Beginners welcome.
Instructor to student ratio: 1:5 maximum.
Where to meet: Lake Superior near Grand Marais, Minnesota
Reservations: Advanced reservation and payment required.
The weather in the northland is dynamic, and if our guides determine it’s too bad, we will change locations or reschedule the class.

Dates

By arrangement. Call for availability.

2 comments

  • I am a beginner Kayaker – my goal is to be proficient enough to paddle lake superior and like bodies of water. Because I live in central Illinois, some 12 hours or so from your location I would like to take in several days of instruction. Do you offer classes back to back?

    • I do, but my schedule is extremely tight this summer so we’d just have to figure out the day/s. There are many instructors in the Chicago area if you don’t want to drive that far.

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