Instructional Offerings - Kayak Courses
Let Karen and Bob Foote custom tailor an instructional program for you or your group. This is a great opportunity for camps, paddling clubs, corporate teams, friends or individuals to work on specific skills at their own pace. Stroke Refinement, Surfing, Navigation and Kayak Rolling are only a few examples of available courses. Both, Karen and Bob, are available for private/semi-private instruction and coaching, as well as mentoring for those desiring to become instructors.
The American Canoe Association (ACA) is the oldest and largest organization devoted to paddlesports and paddlesport instruction in the U.S. Karen and Bob are ACA Instructor Trainers in Open Water Coastal Kayaking. Sea Kayaking is a dynamic sport and the ACA is continuously changing their course offerings to meet the demands of the public and sport. Below is a brief synopsis of some of the ACA courses offered. Karen and Bob provide kayak instruction for paddlers of all ages, levels and abilities and leads ACA Instructor Development Workshops (IDW), Instructor Certification Exams (ICE) and Instructor Updates for Introduction to Kayaking, Basic Coastal Kayaking and Open Water Coastal Kayaking. Please see course descriptions for more information.
Current ACA Coastal Kayak Classes
(As of 8/8/2005)
The first 4 courses below depend upon your preferences of kayak, your choice of waterway, and your pace of learning. Each of the first four courses are either stand-alone or can be taken in a sequence. The next seven courses are meant to augment these core courses. As a newcomer to this program, focus on the first four and examine the details of gear, recommended destinations, and time involved. But also take note that many of the augmentation courses recommend or require the fourth course, Coastal Kayak Basic Strokes and Rescues, as a pre-requisite.
1. QuickStart (QS): QuickStart is a brief, three-hour introduction to paddling a kayak. Students are presented with basic information on dressing to paddle, potential hazards and simple rescues. A minimal paddle skill set is presented and practiced, allowing students to safely and comfortably maneuver on still water. While designed as a stand-alone, introductory course, QuickStart students often progress to the Introduction to Kayak course to acquire greater paddling skill through significantly more guided, on-water practice time. (Teaching site: Class stays in sight of landing – calm conditions.
2. Intro to Kayaking (IK): Intro to Kayak is a six-hour course focusing on skills needed for any type of kayak including but not limited to sit on tops, recreational, folding and inflatable. Presentations include dressing to paddle safely and potential paddling hazards. Simple rescues are demonstrated by the instructor combined with the paddling skills practiced by students to maneuver safely and comfortably on still water. Designed as a stand-alone course, students desiring more intensive skills would proceed to Essentials of Coastal Kayaking or Basic Coastal Kayaking as successive courses, depending
on interest and kayak type. (Teaching site: Class stays in sight of landing – calm conditions)
3. Essentials of Kayak Touring
Essentials of Coastal Kayaking is an eight-hour course focused on helping the student learn to travel safely and efficiently by kayak of the types designated as sit on top, folding, inflatable, “recreational,” and coastal kayak. There’s more emphasis on practicing a simple rescue sequence, understanding the very basics of tides and currents, 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 no conditions such as wind, waves, or current. Designed as a stand-alone course, but could advantageously follow the QS or IK courses. (Teaching site: May be away from the landing site, but must stay within swimming distance of shore – mild conditions.)
4. Coastal Kayak Basic Strokes and Rescues
Coastal Kayak Basic Strokes and Rescues is an eight-hour course focused on helping the student learn to travel safely and efficiently by kayak of the type designated as a sea kayak with bulkheads or flotation. There is more emphasis on self-rescue and assisted-rescue techniques and the stability strokes are introduced. Also, Rules of the Navigable Road, tides and currents, wind and waves, emergency equipment, use of VHF radios and weather radios, understanding charts and basic use of a compass are covered in more depth. Graduates should be capable of paddling up to half mile off shore with mild conditions such as light and variable winds, up to one foot of wind chop, and current speeds up to 1 knot. Designed as a stand-alone course but could advantageously follow the QS or IK or Essentials courses. (Teaching site: May be up to ½ mile off shore, conditions not to exceed 10 knot winds and 1 foot chop)
5. Kayak Rolling
Kayak rolling is a 2-6-hour course that is designed to by used with river and sea kayak hard shell, closed-deck designs. Students will learn the fundamental components of the roll and improve their bracing skills.
This course is not used best as a stand-alone course but is better used with at least the Coastal Kayak Basic Strokes and Rescues as a pre-requisite. (Teaching site: Warm water is preferred, with an area for the instructor to stand in the water – not exceeding chest level.)
6. Coastal Kayak Strokes and Maneuvers Refinement
Coastal Kayak Strokes and Maneuvers Refinement course is a 7-8-hour course to assist students at all levels in refining their strokes and maneuvers in a sea kayak with bulk heads or flotation. Graduates of this course may desire to re-take the course at any time to further refine techniques such as style, bracing, low/high brace turns, bow rudder, side slips and stern rudder. This course is not a stand-alone course but Coastal Basic Strokes and Rescues as a prerequisite. (Teaching site: mild conditions)
7. Traditional Skills
Traditional Skills course is an 8-hour course designed to introduce students to the techniques used in kayaks by Arctic peoples. The course is limited to sea kayaks with bulk heads or flotation in calm conditions. The skills to be covered are unlimited rolling, stroke techniques, and history of kayaking.
The Coastal Kayak Basic Strokes and Rescues course is recommended as a pre-requisite. (Teaching site: mild conditions)
8. Coastal Kayak Open Water Skills
Coastal Kayak Open Water Skills is an eight-hour course focused on helping the student learn to travel safely and efficiently by kayak of the type designated as a sea kayak with bulkheads or flotation, including some introductory navigation, boat lean and edging, introduction to kayak maneuvers and open water rescues. Graduates of this course should be capable of paddling up to one mile off shore with some moderate conditions but not white caps or current speeds beyond 2 knots. This course is not a stand-alone course but should have the Coastal Kayak Basic Strokes and
Rescues course as a pre-requisite. Students should be comfortable with heeling their boats before coming to the class. (Teaching site: stays within 1 mile from shore in moderate conditions)
9. Coastal Kayak Navigation
Coastal Kayak Navigation is in development but will likely be an 8-hour course to be taken in combination with the Basic and Open Water courses designed for sea kayaks. Students will learn navigation principles to help them plan longer day trips on waterways that are covered by nautical charts, rules of the road, and coastal buoys. This course is not a stand-alone course but should have the Coastal Kayak Basic Strokes and Rescues course as a pre-requisite. (Teaching site: Classroom site and an area where students can
navigate in areas with shipping and boating)
10. Surf Zone
Surf Zone course is a 7-8-hour course designed to help students learn to launch and land safely through waves up to 3 feet high in sea kayaks with bulk heads or flotation. Graduates of this course will be introduced to the nomenclature and personal experience of the surf zone, timing, side-surfing techniques, swimming in the surf zone, surf etiquette. This course is not a stand-alone course but better with the pre-requisite of the Coastal Kayak Open Water Skills course. (Teaching site: Waves not exceeding 3 feet, minimal objects should be present, spilling vs. dumping surf preferred)
11. Tidal Current
Tidal Current course is a 7-8-hour course that focuses on estimating, reading, and maneuvering in currents up to 4 knots caused by tidal exchange around coastal contours in sea kayaks with bulk heads or flotation. Students will be introduced to the process of reading tide prediction charts, studying the water, and controlling the kayak in strong flow. This is not a stand-alone course but better with the pre-requisite of the Coastal Kayak Open
Water Skills course. (Teaching site: Current not exceeding 4 knots, bail-out points)
12. Coastal Kayak Rough Water Maneuvering, Towing & Rescues
Coastal Kayak Rough Water Maneuvering, Towing & Rescues is an eight-hour course focused on helping the student learn to handle a kayak of the type designated as a sea kayak with bulkheads or flotation in challenging conditions. Skills will include but not be limited to a variety of rescue techniques and towing, maneuvering the sea kayak in the wind. Graduates
of this class may be capable of handling sea conditions including white caps, waves to three feet, and currents to 5 knots. This is not a stand-alone course but better with the pre-requisite of the Coastal Kayak Open Water Skills course, Kayak Rolling, and either or both of the Tidal Current and Surf Zone courses depending on your selection of waterways. We have opted not to teach this course. We would be happy to direct you to a competent instructor teaching this class.
13. Coastal Kayak Advanced Surf Skills
Coastal Kayak Advanced Surf Skills course is a 7-8-hour course designed to introduce the concepts of reading and surfing waves up to 4 feet high in sea kayaks with bulk heads or flotation or kayaks of the kind called whitewater or surf kayaks or even sit on tops with thigh straps. Students will be introduced to surf etiquette, wave selection, positioning and maneuvers in the surf. This is not designed as a stand-alone course but ideally taken with the Surf Zone course as a pre-requisite. We have opted not to teach this course. We would be happy to direct you to a competent instructor teaching this class.
Summary of Coastal Kayak Assessment Levels
(as of Feb. 15, 2005)
The ACA skills assessment system is designed to supplement ACA Coastal Kayak courses to clarify the paddler’s path of progression, identify skill and knowledge level at the time of assessment, and assist in risk management decisions for sea kayakers. The following levels indicate an increasing level of skill, knowledge, seamanship, and sea kayaking experience. This is a brand new pilot program to the ACA. The assessments will be carried out for the public by Instructor Trainers and Instructor Trainer Educators. This is a general summary. For a more detailed look at specific skill sets, see the Assessment Outlines for each level.
Has the ability to do the following in a safe manner:
• Can paddle a stable kayak or “recreational kayak” with limited maneuvering ability in calm water.
Has the ability to do the following in a safe manner:
• Perform basic strokes and maneuvers in calm water.
• Perform an assisted deep water rescue and paddle float self-rescue in calm water.
Level 2 paddlers will have some limited experience paddling on short day trips in calm water.
Level 3: (Intermediate)
Has the ability to do the following in a safe manner:
• Perform basic strokes and maneuvers in calm to moderate conditions.
• Hold a kayak on edge using boat tilt, and perform turns and maneuvers using boat tilt.
• Brace to prevent capsize.
• Perform assisted and self rescues in open water and moderate conditions
• Perform a roll.
• Use a towing system.
L3 paddlers will have experience paddling on short day trips in calm to moderate open water conditions, using the seamanship, navigation, judgment, and group leadership necessary on such trips.
Level 4: (Intermediate/Advanced)
Has the ability to do the following in a safe manner:
• Perform a wide range of strokes and maneuvers efficiently and with grace and style in moderate to rough open water conditions.
• Effectively brace in rough water.
• Use an efficient boat tilt that can be used for a variety of maneuvers in moderate to rough seas
• Paddle efficiently in any direction in Force 4 wind (16 knots) and seas.
• Negotiate moderate surf (up to 3 feet) in all directions with good boat control.
• Negotiate moderate current (3 knots), including ferrying and eddy turns, with good boat control.
• Perform a variety of assisted rescues and self rescue in rough water conditions.
• Perform a roll in rough water.
• Use a variety of towing techniques in open water.
L4 paddlers will have experience paddling on day trips of 12-15 nautical miles in a variety of conditions, with good working knowledge of the seamanship, navigation, judgment, and group leadership necessary for such trips.
Level 5: (Advanced)
We have no outline for this level yet, but the definition would include all the abilities of L4 taken to rougher water, stronger wind, current, larger surf, and most important, more experience and a high degree of judgment.
Recommended Courses as partial preparation for Assessments
Important note: Taking courses is an important phase of training for kayakers. But the courses alone are not enough. Follow up practice, time on the water, and the experience gained by paddling in varying conditions are necessary to learn and absorb the skills introduced in a course. Seamanship and good judgment are learned over a period of time. There is a major difference between an assessment and a course. The course introduces a set
of skills and body of knowledge to the student. An assessment measures the ability to use various skills and knowledge and rates the paddler accordingly. The courses listed below are recommended for each assessment level, but the skills covered in each course must be learned and absorbed in order to pass an assessment. As noted in the assessment descriptions above,
paddling experience is also necessary and is just as important as course content. We have decided not to offer this level of assessment. We would be happy to refer you to an Instructor Trainer who does.
• L1=Introduction to Kayak, Essentials of Kayak Touring.
• L2=Basic Strokes and Maneuvering.
• L3=Open Water Skills, Rolling.
• L4=Open Water Skills, Stroke Refinement, Surf Zone, Tidal Currents, Rolling, (Navigation, in progress).
• L5=Advanced Open Water, Kayak Surfing.
ADDITIONAL KAYAK CLASS OFFERED BY KAREN & BOB
Dance on the Water: You don’t have to paddle anywhere to enjoy this form of quiet water playboating. During this class we will explore creative variations in kayak strokes and maneuvers, learn technique that will lead to graceful, fluid, and beautiful and perhaps paddle to music. Level: Intermediate to Advance. Requirements: Calm and protected area from the wind. Another title for this class is Interpretive Freestyle Kayaking.
Paddle with Precision and Power (with videotape analysis): Move from basic competence to the next level of paddling – kayaking with precision and power. During this class, we will focus on refining our core strokes (sweeps. draws, forward and back) so that we get more power, control and results from our paddling with a lot less effort. We will also spend some time on balance and heeling (boat edging) drills to help enhance our
boat control. For those who are interested there will be an opportunity to videotape some of your strokes. Videotape analysis is a great teaching tool to help bring your paddling skills up to the next level. By matching your mental image of how you paddle with what you actually see on the screen, you can then go on to make the necessary adjustments and improve.
Kayaking - Balance, Edging and Bracing: Karen Knight and Bob Foote areknown for their balance and for the ability to really get their boat on edge, both in a kayak and canoe - flatwater and whitewater. Good posture and dynamic alignment are essential to having good balance and the ability to put your boat on edge (heeling). In this class students will work on balance drills, learn how to put their boat on edge, incorporate boat tilt into their strokes and maneuvers for better boat performance and develop bracing techniques to help give support and to recover balance. You will leave this class more confident, comfortable and connected to your boat. Come prepared to get wet.
Adaptive Kayaking: People with physical, cognitive, or age-related disabilities seek the fun, tranquility, and rewards that paddling has to offer. If you or if you know of someone with a disability who would like to learn how to kayak please contact Karen. She has a degree in Therapeutic and Outdoor Recreation and over twenty years of teaching people with varying degrees of abilities and disabilities. “Together, we can adapt, improvise and overcome…to get you on the water.”
Yoga for Kayakers: You don't have to stand on your head or sit like a pretzel to enjoy the benefits of practicing yoga. Yoga, which means the union of the body, mind and spirit, is a wonderful tool for everybody, especially paddlers. In this introductory workshop, students will be lead through a series of warm-ups, postures (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayama) that are beneficial to kayakers. If practiced regularly, yoga can enhance body awareness, strength, flexibility, balance, posture and grace. In addition the breathing exercises will work to help calm the mind and improve concentration. All of which, will help to improve your kayaking so that you can be one with the water, go with the flow and remain calm even when the water is anything but.
Introduction to Navigation: There’s an old Maine saying – “You can’t get there from here.” In this course you will learn that you can get there from here, but it may take some prior planning and knowledge of navigating in a coastal environment. In this class we will cover what most sea kayakers need to know and are most likely to use to help them navigate: reading a chart, how to use a compass, route selection, setting a course, rules of the road, wind, weather and tides and their effects, and more.
Single Bladed Paddling for Kayakers: Do you carry a single blade paddle on your deck as a spare? Are you in need of a challenge? Would you like to learn the tradition of paddling your kayak with a single blade? Come to this class and decrease your dependency on your double bladed paddle and learn to do with one blade what most people have trouble doing with two. In this class we will use single bladed paddles to learn strokes that can be used to help us move our kayaks gracefully and efficiently. If you want a challenge and wish to enhance your boat control and paddle awareness, then this is the class for you.
Women’s Sea Kayaking Workshop: To be a skillful paddler, you do not need to be a certain height or build, nor do you have to have a lot of muscle mass or upper body strength. Kayaking is a sport about technique, good judgment, and knowledge of your environment. In this all women’s workshop, we will work on making your kayak strokes efficient, graceful and fluid and your rescue skills more effective. Like many of the other classes, this workshop can be modified to meet the needs of the group. Rolling, navigation and kayak expedition skills are only a few of the topics that can be covered.
Assisted and Solo Capsize Recoveries: Water is dynamic. In a blink of an eye, it can change from being a placid, inviting, and relaxing environment to one that is unfamiliar, unpredictable, and threatening. Don’t wait for the unexpected capsize to happen before you learn the necessary skills to take care of yourself and others. In this class, students will learn rescue procedures and solo and/or assisted capsize recovery techniques that utilize the tools at hand: the kayak, paddle, PFD, safety equipment, and most importantly, their minds. This class is available at varying skill levels.
Traditional Kayak Boat Building Workshop: In this 3 day workshop students can make a traditional kayak of their own. Students will learn the steps involved in building a traditional designed kayak using non-traditional methods (screws and glue).
Trip Leader: This workshop is intended to provide the minimum skills and training necessary for an adult leader, with at least Intermediate kayaking skills, to safely lead a trip for participants, who have novice to intermediate level paddling skills, on lakes, rivers and coastal environments in moderate conditions. A few of the topics that will be covered are environmental factors, route selection, field practices, emergency planning, rescues, trip planning and equipment, etc.
Boating Adventures & Misadventures – Strategies & Techniques to Deal with Kayaking’s Foreseen and Unforeseen (with Bob Foote): Water is dynamic. In a blink of an eye, it can change from being a placid, inviting, and relaxing environment to one that is unfamiliar, unpredictable, and threatening. Bob Foote knows this first hand. For over twenty five years he has been leading canoe and kayak trips to some of the more remote and not-so-remote regions of South America, Central America and North America. He’s had to deal with everything from minor injuries and capsize recoveries to flash floods and large waves breaking apart his boat.
In this class Bob will go over some of these real life paddling-related scenarios. Student’s will work together to come up with strategies and techniques to avoid or handle such situations. Through drills and role-playing, they’ll also spend time on the water developing the necessary rescue skills and awareness that is needed when out kayaking.
This one day class will be a mixture of dry-land and on-water - lecture, scenarios and drills. Come prepared to be off, on, and in the water.
(Along with his paddling and trip leading expertise, for many years Bob Foote was a nurse practitioner in a remote area of Northern California and was responsible for the training of the emergency response teams for that rural region).
Kayaking - Fine Blade Control and Precision: Where you place your paddle, how you angle your blade and timing all affects how your boat performs. In this class we will look at the subtleties of blade control and incorporate them into our paddling. After fine-tuning your draw stroke and sculling draws, we will then move onto draw sideslips and pry sidelslips, bow rudder and some other strokes and maneuvers kayakers might not be familiar with. This class is designed for intermediate paddlers.