About our Courses

currents courseEach year we offer courses to develop and improve SKABC member skills. The courses are developed by SKABC and are taught by experienced and trained club members who volunteer their time. Our courses are not certification courses. SKABC arranges courses with third party providers for specific skills where member interest can be confirmed. We also offer clinics, workshops and other special interest topics.

We charge a nominal fee (generally between $20-$90) to cover materials, facilities and course specific costs.  Students are responsible for ferry and camping / accommodation expenses if applicable.

Courses offer an opportunity to meet other members. Once you've taken a course, we encourage you to go out on club trips to put your new skills into practice and continue developing your skills.

See the Course Schedule for the current line up of training courses.

See below for a brief description of each course.  See Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of this page.

Course Descriptions

 Beginner's Course  

Designed for someone with little or no kayaking experience, novice kayakers will learn to:

  • Get into and out of a sea kayak at a beach or dock
  • Re-enter a kayak after capsizing
  • Demonstrate basic paddling strokes
  • Do an assisted rescue
  • Choose appropriate paddling clothing
  • Identify and be able to use mandatory safety equipment
  • Identify and respond to symptoms of hypothermia
  • Plan a day paddle

This course includes a pool session, and two days on open water with theory sessions integrated into the sessions.

Note: The May 2023 course will begin with a pool session on the first night followed by two on water days in North Vancouver. Participants will be responsible for arranging rentals if they do not have their own kayak.

Strokes (boat handling) and Rescue Course

This course is for intermediate paddlers who want to further develop their boat handling (strokes),  rescue, and towing skills. This course is usually taught over a two day period on open water in the lower mainland.

Navigation Course

Finding your way to your destination, and (equally important) finding your way back home is essential to safe kayaking. Skills you'll learn during the Navigation weekend include:

  • Reading tide and current tables
  • Estimating safe "windows" through tidal passages
  • Proper use of marine charts and compass

This course is normally completed on a two-day overnight trip to one of the Gulf Islands.

Weather Course

"Go/No-Go". This is a decision you must constantly make as a kayaker. Weather patterns dominate our existence at sea--knowing how to interpret the marine radio forecast and make accurate observations makes us much safer paddlers. You will learn:

  • How the wind patterns produced by coastal topography affect kayak travel
  • What those clouds are trying to tell you
  • Whether the weather is likely to get worse or better

This course is normally completed over a weekend and is combined with a kayaking trip to a location on the Sunshine Coast or in the Gulf Islands.

Currents Course

This course, designed for intermediate paddlers wanting to advance their skills, covers:

  • Understanding the flood and ebb around Vancouver Island
  • Interpreting tide and current tables
  • Differentiating between favourable and unfavourable turns
  • Calculating the window of traverse in tidal passages
  • Practicing crossing eddy lines and ferrying across moving water

The course, usually conducted on Mayne Island (Southern Gulf Islands), provides the opportunity to practice crossing eddy lines and ferrying across moving water. Over the two days, there is also lots of opportunity to practice being rescued and rescuing overturned kayakers.

Surfing Course

In 2023 SKABC is offering members an opportunity to participate in custom courses delivered by SKILS.  This two-day course is focused on safe landing and launching on surf beaches - a must for West Coast kayaking.   

Best Practices in Kayak Camping Course

Every decision we make on our trips has the potential to negatively impact the natural environment. Learn and practice the principles of minimum impact camping on this weekend kayaking trip to a destination within close proximity to Vancouver.

Trip Leader Course

SKABC relies on its members to help make it the dynamic club that it is. Members are often seeking opportunities to join trips for a day, a weekend or a week. But, trips require leaders.

Although SKABC expects trip participants to be responsible for themselves and contribute to the overall success of the trip, a leader is required to organize the planning and help the group work through difficult situations that may arise.

This scenario-based course gives you the opportunity to gain confidence so you can volunteer to be a trip leader and it helps you to develop your unique leadership style. You will have opportunities to handle a variety of emergency situations and a wide range of common scenarios that involve group dynamics. The course includes a theory session and a 2-3 night kayaking trip. Please note that the course assumes you have the requisite practical kayaking knowledge and skills.

Instructor's Course

If you want to join SKABC s instructor group but have no prior teaching experience, the Instructor's Course is an excellent starting point for developing confidence and gaining experience in a teaching role. This course focuses on “how to teach” as opposed to the “what”.* Delivered over 2 days, there is ample opportunity to practice teaching skills and receive feedback from both your peer group and the instructor.

(* Members interested in obtaining credentials for their ability to teach kayaking skills should inquire into the Paddle Canada courses offered at the commercial courses offered throughout the lower mainland.)

Frequently asked questions:

Who can participate in a course?

SKABC courses are available to members only. They are offered on a first come, first served basis and usually fill up quickly, so don't delay signing up.

  • If the course you want is full, you can ask to be placed on a waitlist.
  • If you took the same course in recent years, you will only be able to register for that course if space permits.
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How do I register for a course?

  1. Check the Course Schedule and find the course(s) you want.
  2. Follow registration instructions. You will be asked to confirm details related to course pre-requisites.  Once your place in the course is approved, we will send you a confirmation email with payment instructions.
  3. Payment is required within 48 hours of receiving confirmation or registration.
  4. Questions can be sent to the course coordinator noted on the  Course Schedule. If questions cannot be addressed by the course coordinator, please email Training2@skabc.org 

Course communication

  1. Course participants will receive a welcome email with course details including ferry and camping/accomodation planning details. Please allow 2-3 weeks.
  2. Participants in overnight training will be asked to contribute to pot luck dinners.
  3. The course coordinator will assist with coordinating car pooling and ferry reservations, and pot luck dinner planning.

Course cancellation policy

Subject to cancellation policies noted in the registration, if a course registrant cancels their registration, a full or partial refund of the course fee may be made only if another member is able to fill the vacant course place or if payments made by the Association to one or more third parties are refunded to the Association. All other refunds are at the discretion of the Training Officer.