MIKCo's 2017 Courses

kayaker learning sculling for support

Accelerated Fundamentals (1 or 2 days)

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Saturday, June 10 - Sunday, June 11 | Saturday, August 12 - Sunday, August 13

Course Description

If you are ready to immerse in instruction but don’t know where to begin, we recommend our Fundamentals. We will be building your understanding, practice and retention of solid, committed, repeatable and effective skills. These on-water instructional days will give you a solid base from which to expand. You may register for one or both days. Suitable for most paddlers without prior formal training.

Accelerated Fundamentals - Day 1: BLADE, BODY, BOAT (The Three B’s)

This full day course provides beginning and novice kayakers with a foundation in the “Three B’s” – connecting your Blade through your Body to your Boat. By day’s end you should be paddling more like an intermediate paddler, able to transfer the forces from your paddle to obtain results in your boat. We will cover basic strokes, wet exits, assisted rescues, kayak and equipment options and design, their fit and use, and overall safety practices for paddling on the sea’s protected waters.

We’ll work on strokes for propulsion, maneuvering, support and recovery, and introduce the strokes to increase control of our bow, along with edging and leaning. We’ll work on linking strokes in light conditions while paddling in, down, and across (on the beam) wind, waves and quartering seas. And we’ll practice assisted rescues as well as basic self-rescues for those who are ready.

Accelerated Fundamentals - Day 2: PRACTICAL NAVIGATION, SEAMANSHIP & ROUTE SELECTION (The Fourth B: the Brain)

Building upon Fundamentals 1, Day 2 emphasizes the “Fourth B” (the Brain), making wise decisions on the sea. Our seamanship involves gathering, evaluating, and applying our equipment, paddling and environmental variables. We’ll develop a plan for the day by layering in the weather and sea states, tides and currents, wind and anticipated wave shapes, safety zones and exposure areas. We want you to begin thinking like the Captain of your ship as we plan, prepare and then go paddle and expand our experiences.

Our day journey will likely take us out of the harbor to develop observation and understanding of sea states, waves, and tidal flows. We aim to layer in the ‘experience’ cornerstone necessary for you to choose the conditions you and your group are comfortable paddling in. You will develop a working outline for on-water decision-making in ‘light to moderate’ sea conditions, and you’ll experience paddling in or near breaking waves. Seamanship essentially is the route a Captain makes after summing up skills, environment and equipment; it encompasses navigation, rescues, strokes in conditions, trip planning, communications, rules of the road, island ethics and the environmental factors.

Courses include use of MIKCo’s expedition grade sea-kayaks, all kayaking gear, rescue and safety equipment, paddling clothing (wetsuits and jackets), and study materials. MIKCo provides lunches on all of our courses.

Cost for each day is $175; or $335 for both days. You may book online for the 2-day course. If you wish to participate for only one day of the course, please contact Liz.

“His flexible and patient teaching style promoted a rapid transition through the first awkward and frustrating attempts to perform a new stroke, to the ‘ah-ha’ moment (that sometimes fleeting, but nevertheless satisfying instant) when you comprehend what’s supposed to happen, and feel the boat respond accordingly.”    Jan H.

kayakers maneuvering sideways in the rocks

FastTrack 1: INTENSIVE (3 days)

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Friday, July 28 - Sunday, July 30 | Friday, September 15 - Sunday, September 17

Course Description

Designed for athletic beginner, novice, and intermediate paddlers, MIKCo’s FastTrack courses have been highly effective at quickly tuning aspirants into paddlers on the sea. The FastTracks will push you farther, faster. FastTrack 1: INTENSIVE covers the fundamental building blocks of most sea paddling skills and rescues, with an equal emphasis on developing your seamanship: your judgmental skills of navigating, expeditioning, and appropriate bumpy water practice experience. Course-specific teaching methods are geared toward the quicker-learning paddlers willing to work for their skills and decision making. You’ll leave with exercises and tasks to continue your development, and have a basic mental framework for making wiser decisions on the sea.

FastTrack Courses include use of MIKCo’s expedition grade sea-kayaks, all kayaking gear, rescue and safety equipment, paddling clothing (wetsuits and jackets), and study materials. MIKCo provides lunches on all of our courses. On the 3-day courses, we may meet in the evening for additional study or an informal potluck meal around a fire.

Due to the intensive content and variable methodology, MIKCo’s FastTrack courses are designed to be taken more than once. Do not hesitate to write or call with questions about specifics or appropriateness for your interests.

Cost for the 3-day weekend is $480.

Contact us with questions or for more information.

“We wished it was 5 days instead of 3.”    Tess J. and Travis S.

FastTrack 2: READY FOR THE JOURNEY (1 day)

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Saturday, July 22 | Saturday, August 26

Course Description

Designed for paddlers ready to paddle on their own, to accept the challenge of being Captain of their ship, to push their limits, OR maybe just to see if you are prepared to think and act as a self-contained paddler. Most structured teaching provides the lesson before the test, but as we all know life often gives us the test before we learn our lesson. This scenario based experiential course builds upon this later method; much of our on-water activities will be based on our real world experiences over our decades of paddling on the sea. We will work on your navigation and piloting skill sets in lighter tidal waters. We will hone our rescues in conditions, while figuring out how to lessen the environmental effects. You will increase your confidence and seamanship paddling our modern sea kayaks.

FastTrack 2 is appropriate for those ready to expand their on-water hard skills, judgment,  and applied seamanship. This can be a serious fun course for the committed paddler, and is our recommendation for all those who believe they are ready to paddle in Gulf of Maine waters on their own.

You’ll have a chance to review and practice your skills and seamanship in moderate conditions, and will gain fresh insight into the Four Cornerstones of Success: your Judgment, Skill, Knowledge and Experience. You will leave with more clarity on what to focus on next in your sea training. These exercises - and the sea - will help you expand your toolbox.

FastTrack Courses include use of MIKCo’s expedition grade sea-kayaks, all kayaking gear, rescue and safety equipment, paddling clothing (wetsuits and jackets), and study materials. MIKCo provides lunches on all of our courses.

Prior relevant experience required. For MIKCo's FastTrack alumni or equivalent. Due to the intensive content and variable methodology, MIKCo’s FastTrack courses are designed to be taken more than once. Do not hesitate to write or call with questions about specifics or appropriateness for your interests.

Cost for the 1-day course is $175.

Contact us with questions or for more information.

“To make a long story short, a rare bright moment in my life was using my new navigation skills and boat to find Steve’s Island in the fog.”    Clifford W.

kayakers paddling along the rocks

FastTrack 3: ROCKS AND RESCUES (1 day)

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Sunday, July 9 | Saturday, August 19

Course Description

Some of our best Maine paddling is along beautiful rocky coasts, underwater ledges, and reflecting waves. Learn that rocks can be your friend…and your puzzle! This often challenging - and sometimes wet - day is for those seeking the thrill of sliding, carving, edging, and generally bouncing about in the rocking and rolling environment of our rock gardens. The rocks and ledges of Maine help us train our dynamic, effective strokes, in bumpy water and breaking waves. While rivers and tidal streams are generally linear energy, rock garden wave energy is made up of reflections and refractions, ebbs and flows, from many directions. We’ll start out with smaller waves, and progress to ?!@#%$!?  This day is exhilarating and edgy - fun and challenging. You’ll begin to tune in as you study confused surf zones and practice real life rescues. Your confidence and excitement will expand, as this venue demands us to deliver effective strokes. We recommend this training for most paddlers given appropriate conditions. Some bracing skills are a minimum requirement; but equally important is your enthusiasm. This is a helmet sport for those with basic bracing, wet exits and assisted rescue experience.

Courses include use of MIKCo’s expedition grade sea-kayaks, all kayaking gear, rescue and safety equipment, paddling clothing (wetsuits, jackets, helmets), and study materials. MIKCo provides lunches on all of our courses.

Cost for the 1-day course is $175.

Contact us with questions or for more information.

“I love to come back each year because I can continue to develop my skills while having a ball.”    Paul B.

kayaker near an eddy line

Piscataqua River Trip and Demo Day (1 day)

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Sunday, August 6

Course Description

Let’s meet up in on Maine's border with New Hampshire and ride the tides through the working and historical harbor town of Portsmouth. The Piscataqua River is wonderfully tidal many miles inland and empties a large watershed, which makes this a fun and exciting journey for those able to cope with currents and eddy lines, and maneuver around big boat traffic. We expect paddlers to have reasonable boat control and basic support strokes in order to take advantage of any mild play spots we come across, and enough boat control to be able to stay out of the way of large working boats. We’ll focus on controlling the bow of our kayaks and clearly planning out our position on the water, our route options and safety spots as we paddle past ocean-going commercial boats, schooners, research vessels, working wharfs and original colonial homes. We’ll be riding the tides and resting in the eddies along this journey of approximately 10-15 miles.

All kayak gear, equipment, and lunch are included.

Cost for the 1-day journey: $175 complete. ($125 with your seaworthy boat and gear.)

Contact us with questions or for more information.

“I got more out of the course than I anticipated. One thing that I left with that I didn’t expect was confidence.”    Joline H.

Into the Rocks

Rough Water Rescues and Incident Management with Kevin Beckwith (1 day)

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Saturday, June 10

Course Description

Be ready for the unexpected! Sea states can change quickly. Revisit old techniques and learn new ones during this intensive one-day training. Learn to handle situations in dynamic ocean conditions when things are going less than perfect. This class takes your flat water rescues and brings them into rough water.

Paddlers can get themselves into tricky predicaments. Boats and gear can become damaged. How do you respond quickly and effectively to these incidents?The first step towards learning how best to deal with these eventualities is to train for them. Rock, Paddle, Surf strongly believes in the mantra that “practice makes permanent” so the more you have correctly practiced the appropriate techniques, the more ingrained they become and more easily accessible when required. The course will cover rough water scenarios, medical emergency scenarios, weather, communications, tricky landings, on water gear / boat repairs, navigation, towing and much more. It has been designed for anyone with some training in rescue techniques although a kayak roll is not needed. It is recommended for all paddlers, whether or not they lead others in the marine environment.

Things to note:

  • It will be June. It will be Maine. It will be the ocean. It will be cold water.  Dress for immersion as we will be in the water.
  • You must bring a water-sports approved helmet, a tow system, and any gear that you would normally have with you while paddling.
  • Bring your ideas!

Cost for the 1 day course: Rock, Paddle, Surf is committed to supporting the maintaining of high standards of professional training for working Maine sea kayak guides and instructors. To this end, Rock, Paddle, Surf offers this course at the discounted price of $35 for members of MASKGI. Non-members $140.

To register: Click the blue button to book online. For the MASKGI rate, please call Liz at 207-939-6045 or email liz@maineislandkayak.com.

sea kayakers in rough water

ACA Level 4 Open Water Coastal Kayaking Skills with Kevin Beckwith (2 days)

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Saturday, June 17 - Sunday, June 18

Course Description

This course is a skills training session, designed to assist you in your development toward ACA L4 Open Water Coastal Kayaking certification. ACA objectives for this course are: introducing the “J-Lean” and its uses, including edge control for maneuvering and correcting course, balance, bracing, and overall boat control; refining the forward stoke and learning the side slip maneuver (static draw); performing assisted and self rescues in open water; using a compass to hold course and a chart to fix location; bow angle method of avoiding collision; and basic towing technique. The course will also incorporate some classroom instruction. Kevin Beckwith is the owner of Rock, Paddle, Surf Kayak Coaching, and is an ACA Level 5 Advanced Open Water Instructor.

Kayaks may be available for use with prior arrangement. There is a course minimum of 4 participants.

Cost for the 2 day course: $300, which includes applicable ACA fees.

kayakers maneuvering close to shore

Wednesday Evening Mini Sessions - They’re fun and they’re free!

June 21 | July 12 | July 26 | August 9

Session Descriptions

Join us on Kayak Beach on Peaks Island this summer for our series of four Wednesday evening mini sessions. Paddle to Peaks or take the ferry from Portland. Each evening will include some instruction, beginning at 6:00, and a chance to paddle and practice.

Maneuvering Beyond the Straight and Narrow - June 21
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We’ll work on controlling our boats more effectively using a combination of paddle strokes, edging and bracing. Move your boat forwards, backwards and sideways - then have fun navigating around an on-water obstacle course!

101 Things you can do with a Paddlefloat - July 12
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Okay, maybe not 101 things… but a paddlefloat has more uses than you might be aware of. We’ll demonstrate some less conventional applications and do some on-water practice with our paddlefloats. You’ll learn to use this important piece of safety gear in a variety of ways - and why you shouldn’t leave shore without it.

Go with the Tow - July 26
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Safety gear that we bring every time we go out on the water includes tows. We’ll look at different kinds of tows and how they are used - from helping a tired, sick or injured paddler home to helping you manage a tricky landing. On-water practice will help you become familiar with these essential pieces of safety gear.

Chart & Compass in 30 Minutes - August 9
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Legendary Maine fog rolls in… and your GPS has run out of charge! We'll learn how to navigate using your handheld and deck mounted compasses. It's easier than you might think, and an essential skill especially for paddling our coastal Maine waters.

Greenland rolling in skin on frame kayaks

Greenland Paddling Workshop with Cheri Perry and Turner Wilson (3 days)

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Friday, August 25 - Sunday, August 27

Workshop Description

Join us on Peaks Island for a long weekend of Greenlandic paddling skills and their application to moderate sea conditions. Most traditional paddlers work hard on their rolling and recovery skills. This weekend, you will continue to develop this Holy Grail of sea kayaking while layering in your understanding of the wonders of the sea.

Mornings will involve group work: connecting your traditional blades through  your bodies to your boats. During the afternoons, you will break into smaller groups to work on the orchestrated progressions that Cheri and Turner have developed over many years.

Cheri and Turner are partners in Kayak Ways LLC, a venture based on the notion that the traditional kayaking skills of the Inuit seal catchers offer valuable lessons for the modern day recreational kayaker. For the past nine years, Cheri and Turner have traveled worldwide teaching these uniquely consistent and practical kayaking skills.

We expect any euro blade paddlers to work with traditional paddles. You are encouraged to paddle in a variety of conditions, playing in our light currents and ocean swell. You will develop your Greenlandic paddling expertise and your seamanship.

Group size for the weekend will be capped at 8. Two and three day paddlers are preferred.

Cost is $175 per day. You may register online for the 3-day course. If you wish to participate for only two days of the course, please contact Liz.

Women in the Waves logo

Women in the Waves with Eila Wilkinson (2 days)

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Friday, October 13 - Saturday, October 14

Workshop Description

Join Eila Wilkinson of Sea Kayaking UK, Paula Riegel of Kayak Waveology, and Liz Johnson of Maine Island Kayak Co, for two special days of sea kayaking with, by, and for women. Together we’ll challenge ourselves to increase our skills and expand our comfort zones in a no-fail setting. No competition, no assessments: just instruction and fun with friends in an amazing ocean environment.


Get ready to take your sea kayaking skills to the next level.

Morning - Rockin’ It: Boat Handling Skills and Maneuvering in and around the Rock Gardens

Lunchtime Talk - Gearing Up: Women Specific Gear and Issues

Afternoon - Bracing Waves

Encore - Balancing Act: Boat Play & Rescues by the Beach


We’ll cover planning and route selection, risk management, and group control as we prepare for a full day’s trip.

Morning - It’s All About the Journey

Lunchtime Talk - Be Here Now: Keeping an up-to-date Mental Model

Afternoon - Towing Home

Encore - Wrapping it Up

Courses include use of MIKCo’s expedition grade sea-kayaks, all kayaking gear, rescue and safety equipment, paddling clothing (wetsuits and jackets), and study materials. MIKCo provides lunches on all of our courses.

Group size for this special event is limited. Cost is $350 for the 2-day workshop.

Contact us with questions or for more information.

“It’s not about strength; it’s about technique.” Eila Wilkinson

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."    Annie Dillard