east coast sea kayak symposia

I am soliciting information and opinions about sea kayak symposia on the east coast for the upcoming season. I have heard of the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival in Charleston, SC, the Mid Atlantic Kayak Festival in DC and the Barrier Isalnd Kayak Festival in NC. Does anyone have additional information about or experience at these events, or know of other events, which would assist in deciding which one to attend?

here ya go…

East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival - there are usually a lot of people at this event and a lot of vendors. If you want to check out gear, products, and demo boats then this is your best bet. There are a few classes - only the ‘Master’ classes are on-water classes. They also have pre and post event on-water classes. Camping is available at the park where the event is held. This is good if you are very new to kayaking, but I would skip it if you want in-depth training.

Mid-Atlantic Kayak festival - This is the first year for the event. Potomac Paddlesports in a great DC resource for whitewater paddling and I am sure they will be the same for sea kayaking. The guy putting the event together is very organized and a great coach so it should be a fantastic event. I am sure there will be lots of great classes for beginners on up.

Barrier Island Kayaks - This is event has been around for a while. There are lots of classes for beginner to advanced and a good community feel too. This is probably my favorite symposium, because of the time of year and paddling conditions available. You can camp at the national forest camp ground, or splurge and stay at the Waterway Inn which shares a lawn with Barrier Island Kayaks.

There is also Sea Kayak Georgia’s Symposium in Oct, Maine Island Kayaks at the end of August, and Carpe Diem Kayaks in Mid-September.

It would help to know where you feel you are at as far as sea kayaking and what you want to get out of the symposium.


I live in Charleston, SC. I have worked for, and I am friends with, the good folks putting on the EECKF, Tom (the guy organizing the Mid-Atlantic Kayak Festival), and the good folks at Barrier Island Kayaks.

They are different

– Last Updated: Mar-12-09 2:21 PM EST –

First, ECCKF is what it is – a festival. It takes place around a pond in James Island State Park. Lots of vendors. Lots of folks. Lots of short classes – both on and off water. Lots of opportunities to demo lots of different boats – in a pond.

Barrier Island’s symposium is a symposium – all about training with time to kick back with coaches and fellow students. Similar to Sea Kayak Georgia’s symposium, but smaller. From early e-mails it looks like Lamar will be adding new things this year. You have to watch for this one – the info comes out late. It’s in June and so far all we see is the dates – June 10 – 14. This is my favorite – probably because of the small size.

Sea Kayak Georgia is a close second. Great place and great people. Wider range of courses and coaches. The October schedule is already posted.

Mid Atlantic is new this year. Looks like symposium with a bit of festival – i.e. vendors.

The folks that run these symposiums – Lamar, Ronnie & Marsha, and Tom are all first rate. They coach at each others events and many of the other coaches are the same, so timing and location may be the deciding factor for you.

Charleston Kayak and Canoe Festival
Hi nomadicseeker

Our club (Florida Sea Kayaking Association, Inc) goes to this event every year. This year will be our fifth in a row as a group. We travel up north from the Jacksonville, Florida area. We usually have 25-30 members attend. We group grill every night. The event is awesome. Lots of boats, gear, classroom classes and on the water classes. There is a big cookout where all the big names come…lots of fun. The campground is also great and walking distance to the Festival.

It’s a good time!

Hope this is helpful.


If further north…
Downeast Symposium out of Bar Harbor, Maine around the weekend after Labor Day. More info under http://www.carpediemkayaking.com/symposium.htm.

Water temps likely in the high 50’s offshore.

new england rough water
symposium…link below.

2009 scheduling to be determined…check site for updates.


Paddlesport 2009

– Last Updated: Mar-13-09 1:03 PM EST –

Paddlesport 2009 is coming up in central NJ in a couple weeks. Lots of vendors, pool sessions I believe, but no open water.


Great for beginners - the “Discovery Learning” course by Nigel Foster is worth the trip. H2Outfitters also put on good beginners courses. I haven’t taken any of the more advanced or open water courses, can’t comment on those.

Most everyone has described it well, but is also a good place to try out the latest boats. Good low country boil available on Saturday night. Overall, a fun weekend.

Also H2Outfitters classes at ECCKF
The Master classes are great, and taught by top notch paddlers. There are also continuous beginner level classes taught by H2Outfitters out of Maine. Not as interesting, but good for the basics.