LEARN FROM THE EXPERIENCED
Whether you are a beginner, wondering if the sport is for you; you've done some paddling and are ready to take the next steps; or you are a seasoned paddler, seeking real water training and British Canoe Union (BCU) Coach and Maine Guide certifications: Maine Island Kayak Co would like to work with you to achieve your goals.
We offer private instruction for your personal paddling style and interests. Paddle in one of our expedition-grade sea kayaks, or bring your own boat.
The following are descriptions of instructional courses and trips we have offered. Choose one of these, or combine elements for your one-of-a-kind course.
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.
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.
Accelerated Fundamentals 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 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.
Rocks & Rescues
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 [email protected]#%$!? 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.
Piscataqua River Trip
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.
Our Registered Maine Guides and BCU and American Canoe Association (ACA) trained coaches and instructors have paddled thousands of miles on various seas over the last 30+ years, and have helped hundreds get out on the water. We believe our progressive formats will tune you into this great sport: taking you beyond simple rescues and basic maneuvering to making rewarding decisions, and enabling you to achieve your goals in the ever-changing environment.
PADDLING SKILLS, SEAMANSHIP, AND SCIENCE
Maine Island Kayak Co’s on-water courses are designed to provide effective learning of boat handling skills, safety, and seamanship, with an awareness of our surroundings. Regardless of your level of commitment, safe sea paddling requires good seamanship and effective decision making by your group. We will also lean into the magic of our marine environment’s science and history.
PRIVATE INSTRUCTION FOR YOURSELF OR YOUR GROUP OF FRIENDS
Most MIKCo courses are available for your private booking. Four students is our preferred number for our lead coaches, as it allows for deeper modeling and increased group responsibility. Schedule a one day lesson or a multi-day course.
Come get a paddle wet with us!What to Bring, Release, Cancellation & Refunds: The Fine Print
The following information will help you plan for your day with us:
You will be asked to sign MIKCo's General Release prior to your course.
If MIKCo cancels a course due to too few participants or due to unsafe weather or sea conditions, we’ll send you a full refund. If you cancel with 21 days notice, we’ll send you a full refund less a $25 administrative fee, 75% of the total cost with 14-20 days notice, 50% of the total cost with 8-13 days notice, but no refund if you cancel with less than 7 days notice – unless we are able to fill your spot from a waiting list.
Health Insurance: We recommend that you have health insurance, as you are responsible for any medical costs incurred.
Miscellaneous: Under 18 years of age requires special parental consent and minor forms. We reserve the right to refuse services to anyone we feel is a risk to themselves or others.
See our Info page for additional information.
"I am still learning." Michelangelo, age 87