Sea Kayak Training

With an arthritic knee that has me sitting more than kneeling, I decided to pull the trigger and buy a sea kayak that will allow me to get out on the ocean. If I am going to sit anyway, why not enjoy Rhode Island’s beautiful coast that’s just 20-30 minutes away.

I bought a used P&H Capella 166 RM, and now I need to learn to paddle it. I spent the day yesterday at the Essential Kayak Skills class at the Kayak Centre. It has been years since I’ve had any formal paddling instruction, and I really shouldn’t have waited this long.

This is an introductory course, so we spent a lot of time covering strokes – forward sweep, reverse sweep, 360 degree turn, forward stroke, reverse stroke, stopping, stern rudder, stern pry, beam draw and low brace. The focus was on shaft angle, (high, medium and low), good torso rotation, and paddle placement. Each stoke was demonstrated, and then we had individual coaching to make sure that we got it right.

After strokes, we covered wet exits and assisted/unassisted rescues. I did a t-rescue as a rescuee and as the rescurer. A paddle float rescue was demonstrated, so I can try it sometime.

It was an excellent program, and I am glad that I did it. The trick will be to remember everything once I get the new boat (pick it up today) out on the water. Few pictures here:


aah , Water time to build that muscle memory… But there is a lot of similarity with canoeing so you are at an advantage…
Thanks for your post ; indicates that instruction no matter what the level of paddler you are , is beneficial.
We can read books and watch videos but neither of those give us feedback on what we are actually doing ( vs what we thinkwe are doing(

Have a blast in your new boat and new venues.

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It also reminded me that I have gotten pretty sloppy in my open boat paddling - especially when it comes to torso rotation.

No doubt that getting good instruction at the start (edit - or any other time) is the way to go.


Use your GoPro. I am finding video useful in seeing what I am doing as opposed to “what I think I am doing…” :upside_down_face:



Glad you had a great experience, and good luck with the new kayak! Ken is a fantastic instructor, and seeing your photos of Ken, his old Atlantic, and the waterfront brought back lots of good memories. I taught a few classes with Ken when I was there but I mostly worked in the shop and lead tours. FYI he reposted your photos on Facebook so that was a nice thing to wake up to this morning.

What kayak were you in for the class? I saw the front of something with a Perception logo but couldn’t make out what it was. I think you’ll like the Capella.

Smart of you to start at the beginning with lessons even after years of canoeing. Sounds like the choice of things to introduce was spot-on, and one-on-one attention is always helpful.

One small tip for practicing on your own: Don’t try to cover too many techniques in each session. Pick one or two to really focus on each time. If you have an analytical mind, let it go to work for you. Without someone more skilled always with you, you will have to learn how to coach yourself. Maybe you already discovered that—but if river shuttling meant there really always WAS a companion, maybe that didn’t happen.

Keep in mind that you can make minor mods to thigh braces and seats for better fit. If there’s a knee injury, you definitely want them to be “thigh” braces. Edging is such a major tool in sea kayaking…that’s why snugly sealed sprayskirts are so important, even without rolling.

It’s interesting to see how an experienced WW canoeist will like sea kayaking in the sea! One thing to learn (can be started on land in winter) is navigation and planning for tidal flows, if you don’t already do that. Have fun and keep us posted here.