Sea Kayaking
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Kitsap Mountaineer Sea Kayakers



Kitsap Mountaineer Sea Kayakers






Contact information:

Vern Brown:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 360-626-3963

Welcome to the Kitsap Mountaineer Sea Kayaking homepage.  We are a group of folks who have fun playing on/in the water in our kayaks.  We believe that paddling is more fun when it is safe and that safety is built on knowledge and skills.  Sea kayaking has many facets: Some of us prefer paddling on flat water in warm weather and others prefer playing in moving and dynamic water; sometimes we may seek the serenity that comes with quietly paddling the back waters of a bay or inlet, and at other times we might want the excitement of playing in currents or surf or exploring rocky shoals and sea stacks on the coast.   We paddle all over Western Washington and beyond -- in waters ranging from Liberty Bay to Budd Inlet to Deception Pass to the ocean.  You might find us on the Columbia in Eastern Washington or on the Oregon coast or off of Vancouver Island.  We plan and lead at least two trips a month and, as a members of the Mountaineers, we sometimes go on trips put on by one of the other branches - Everett, Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia. And, in addition to paddles, we conduct several classes and clinics every year so that paddlers who want to can increase their skills and thus the places they can safely have fun paddling.

Check out the photos at to see what we do.

You can look at the trips and other activities we have on the calendar here: Kitsap Sea Kayaking activities.

And you can check out the calendared sea kayak activities of all of the Mountaineer branches here: All Sea Kayaking activities for the Mountaineers.

In order to paddle with the Mountaineers, one must be a member of the Mountaineers and either successfully complete a Mountaineer Basic Sea Kayaking class or demonstrate that one has knowledge and skills at least equivalent to that of a graduate of our basic class.  More information concerning the Basic Class and Equivalency Evaluations as well as a list of essential kayaking gear, the Mountaineers' sea kayak trip rating matrix, and other information pertinent to our activities follows this introduction.

Please contact me (I prefer email; my inbox is sort of a memory aid.) if you have any questions about our sea kayak program or about the Mountaineers in general.


Vern Brown
Chair, Kitsap Mountaineer Sea Kayakers



Our next sea kayaking class will be held the first two weekends in May 2015. Click here to see more information about the course.

Contact Charlie Michel at 360-710-0616 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information and prior to enrolling.


For more information about an equivalency evaluation, contact Charlie Michel at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 360-710-0616, (email preferred).



Each paddler is required to have the below gear on all trips


Sea Kayak with Floatation in both ends. For boats without bulk heads a sea sock is highly recommended but sea sock is not floatation and sea sock without flotation bags is inadequate.

Deck perimeter lines recommended. Additional floatation and deck perimeter lines are required in surf or current play.



PFD (USCG approved)


Spray Skirt


Paddle Float




Appropriate Attire (Dress for immersion) Including footwear and gloves




Flares (as required by USCG)

Please see page 17 of the USCG booklet located at for information about when and where flares are required for kayaks.  (This booklet has lots of other good information too.)

Chart and compass (deck or handheld)


Spare clothes in a drybag



For the trip and a bit extra.


For the trip and a little more

First Aid Kit appropriate to trip


Repair Kit appropriate to trip/boat/gear

Trip leader required to carry multi-tool or pliers and screw

drivers in their repair kit.

Headlamp or flashlight


Emergency Shelter appropriate to trip

Space blanket or cag or bothy bag or tent, depending on trip.

Sun Protection (sun glasses with retainer strap, sunscreen, hat)


Lighter or Waterproof Matches

Except, perhaps, in summer, recommend a full fire kit with all

items necessary to create a fire including fuel for 30 mins.

(Often there is no dry fuel available where we might need to

build a fire. )



Depending on the trip, additional gear may be required. Most common additional gear items are


Waterproof watch

Trip leader required to carry on all trips; recommended

all carry on all trips.

Pertinent Tide and Current Data

Trip leader required to carry on all trips.



Tow belt

Required to be carried by trip leader or designee on all trips.


Trip leader required to carry on all trips; all required to carry

on SKIV and above trips; recommended all carry on all trips.

Spare Paddle

Required to be carried by trip leader or designee on all trips.

VHF Radio or weather radio

Required to be carried by trip leader on all trips. VHF radio

(with weather channels) required to be carried by trip leader

on SKIV and above trips.

Wag (or other poop) Bag

Required to be carried by trip leader on all trips; recommended

all carry on all trips.

Thermos with hot non-caffeinated beverage




EPIRB or Personal Locator Beacon

Required to be carried by trip leader on coastal trips.

GPS (mapping)

Required to be carried by trip leader on coastal trips.


Mountaineer sea kayak trips are rated SK I - SK VI based on the criteria in the below matrix.

Mountaineer Sea Kayak Trip Ratings


Rating Factors

Trip Rating








(Fetch is defined as the unobstructed distance that the wind can blow over the water and build up waves).

nm = nautical miles

In areas protected from waves by nearby landforms in case of wind.

Fetch less than 10 nm unless it is generally possible to land and walk out. Crossings less than ½ nm except for very protected trips.

Crossings up to 2 nm wide and/or fetches longer than 10nm.

Crossings up to 5 nm.

Crossings more than 5 nm, but less than 3 hours’ paddling time at the speed listed with the trip. Exposed ocean coasts are included when precautions are taken.

Trips combining a long fetch with stretches where safe landing may be difficult or impossible for most of a day.


(Expected en route)

kt = knot

Insignificant currents

Max. Predicted current up to one kt.

Max. Predicted currents up to two kt.

Predicted currents may be more than 2 kt, but less than slowest paddler’s top speed.

Currents may be faster than group can paddle against.

Exposure to hazards at any other levels taken to extremes.


Day trip near shore.

Either has protection or intermittent places to get out.

May involve crossing eddy lines and tide rips.

May cross strong eddy lines, tide rips and up swellings.

May include landing and launching in surf.

Exposure to hazards at any other levels taken to extremes.

Acceptable Conditions

(no guarantees)


Generally try to avoid choppy water and/or winds above 10kt.

Generally will not start out in whitecaps, but be prepared for paddling into waves large enough to wash over the deck, and be comfortable paddling in at least 10 kt winds.

May include steep waves and swells. Be comfortable paddling in 15 kt winds.

For groups prepared to knowingly set out in rough weather, whitecaps, and fast currents.

May only be negotiable with favorable conditions. Kayak rescues may not be possible



Rating Factors

Trip Rating







Skills and Conditions

(The skills and experience required are cumulative with ascending levels.)

Ability to swim. Except with leader’s permission:

(a) previous experience is required on trips more than 5 nm: and (b) previous practice capsizing and wet exiting (or be willing to learn how before the trip).

Participants must have practiced assisted sea kayak rescue techniques.

Conditions may require bracing skills. Previous group and self- rescue practice (both as rescuer and rescuee).

Conditions may require anticipatory leaning, reflexive bracing, stern rudder with paddle, and the ability to read moving water. Familiarity with charts and navigation.

Trip members must have tested their skills in rough conditions, know their limits, and be self-reliant in the event of separation from the group. The ability to Eskimo roll is highly recommended as conditions can make sea kayak rescues difficult. Rescue practice with the kayak and equipment used on this trip.

Extensive experience and skill including kayak surfing and rolling are required.

The rating system is a general guide; the highest rating of any factor is usually used to rate the trip.

Plus or minus signs can be used to further differentiate the levels. For example, a minus sign could be used for a trip which technically gets a given level, but is on the easy side of that level. An asterisk designates training trips open to paddlers new to that level. The distance to be paddled and the expected paddling speed should be listed, but do not affect the trip level.

Due to extra risk, the following factors increase the trip rating ½ level:
• Water temperatures less than 55 degree Fahrenheit, unless participants bring wetsuits or drysuits to wear.
• A slightly faster current or longer crossing when all other conditions meet the criteria of a stated trip.
• Overnight or longer trips, unless an alternative (such as hiking out or being picked up by a support boat) is available.