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Cross Currents Sea Kayaking

123 Osborne Ave

Baltimore, MD 21228

Phone: 410.788.1241

Email: CrossCurrentsSeaKayaking@gmail.com

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Courses for 2019

See "Course Descriptions" PDF for details on each course. Highlights of each are provided below.

If you'd like to register for one or more courses/trips - or have questions about any of them -  just email us at  CrossCurrentsSeaKayaking@gmail.com.


Jacksonville Journeys

Dates: Sat. Feb. 16 - Sat. Feb. 23, 2019

Location: Jacksonville, FL area

Instructor/Guide: Rick Wiebush

Cost: $795, includes housing

We are again getting out of the cold and snow in mid-winter and doing one of Rick’s favorite trips: to the Jacksonville area and some spectacular paddling venues. Our base will be an eight-bedroom beachfront house from which we’ll do a wide variety of 10 – 12  mile day trips.


The trips are very diverse including open water and sheltered rivers, historic cities (St. Augustine and St. Marys, GA) and gleaming urban areas (downtown Jax), National Parks (Cumberland Island) and places most people never paddle (upper St. Mary's River which forms the border between GA and FL). Oh, and some wildlife like alligators, dolphins and tons of birds.


Why February 16 - 23? That includes Presidents Day so people only have to take four days off of work AND because the average high in JAX is 66 in Feb.


The cost is $795 for the week. That includes housing (semi-private for singles, private for couples) for seven nights (Saturday through following Friday). It also includes breakfast and lunch fixins' every day. I buy a range of things, you make what you want each day. It also includes guiding and some informal instruction if you want it. Think about this: you are getting housing and two meals each day + the trips for about $110 per day.


You are responsible for getting yourself there, your boats and equipment, your dinners, snacks and adult beverages. Right now, airfare from Baltimore to Jax is as low as $300 r/t. If you fly, we can transport your boat down and back for an additional $100.


On Water Navigation

Date: Sun. April 14, 2019

Location: Annapolis, MD

Instructors: Paula Hubbard, Rick Wiebush

Cost: $100


Take what you have learned in a classroom setting and apply it to the “real world” i.e. actually on the water. This is the stuff you need to know to find your way effectively and to know where you are at all times when you’re on the water.


The overall context for the class will be planning and executing a ten-mile trip in the Annapolis area. In the planning stage, we’ll review some key issues such as route selection, plotting a course, measuring distances, estimating elapsed time, the potential effects of wind and current, identifying potential bail-out points, etc.


Once on the water, we will see what those zillion little symbols on charts actually look like in real life, with particular attention paid to aids to navigation. Several key skills will be reviewed and practiced, such as establishing ferry angles and using ranges to deal with the effects of current.  We will also spend a lot of time matching up what we see on the chart to actual land and water features, and you will be constantly challenged to identify “where are we now?” 


Get a handle on practical, useful navigation skills – join us for this popular course!


L2 Instructor Certification Workshop and Update

Dates: Fri - Sun, April 19 - 21, 2019

Location: Lake Anna, VA

Instructor Trainer: Rick Wiebush

Cost: $325 (ICW) or $250 (Update)

This is an Instructor Certification Workshop (ICW) for those wishing to get certified as an ACA L2 sea kayaking Instructor.  It can also be used by current L2 instructors to meet the ACA requirement that you participate in an Update once every four years.

This course will be held at Lake Anna because one section of the lake has warm water all year. We will be staying in a rental house that has access to the warm portion of the lake. Housing costs will be about $55/night for a shared room.

The ICW consists of two basic parts. The first two days involves tuning up the candidate’s personal skills, expanding their general knowledge of kayaking, and learning about effective methods for teaching the sport to others. The candidates have multiple opportunities to practice their teaching skills. The third day is the formal assessment of personal skills, general knowledge of the sport (e.g. tides and currents, navigation), and teaching ability. Taking the course does not guarantee certification.

A candidate’s likelihood of passing is greatly enhanced if he/she comes into the course with good command of the personal skills required a the L2 level. That’s because an ICW is about learning how to teach effectively, not learning the skills yourself! To give you some idea of what’s required, the following link provides the instructor criteria for Level 2.



Current L2 Instructors and the Update

This ICW can serve as an update for current L2 instructors. The ACA requires that you attend an update once every four years. It does not have to be in the fourth year after you got certified. It can be at any time during the four-year period.

You can participate for two of the three days to qualify for the update. The cost is $225. As part of the update, you will be expected to demonstrate the same (or better) skills that led to your initial certification. You can also expect to dramatically expand your skill set during this course.

Hooper's Island and Blackwater NWR Magical Mystery Tour

Dates: Sat - Sun, April 28 - 29

Location: Fishing Creek, MD

Guide: Rick Wiebush

Cost: $295 (housing included)

You need to experience this Chesapeake gem that – inexplicably – few paddlers actually explore. Join us this spring to check out the watermen’s communities of Upper and Middle Hooper Islands, and the uninhabited Lower Hooper Island. There is a mysterious and magical quality to these places, where sea gulls wheel above mist-enshrouded pines, crabbers and oystermen slide their boats alongside the Phillips Seafood processing facility to unload their catch, and uninterrupted 180- degree Chesapeake Bay vistas.


We’ll spend two nights in a 5 BR 3 BA house, explore Hooper’s on Saturday, and then have dinner at Old Salty’s (right next to the house). On Sunday we’ll paddle the serpentine, tranquil, and equally mysterious trails of the nearby Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, with it 250 bird species, including the largest breeding population of Bald Eagles on the East Coast north of Florida.


This is very cool paddling!

Outer Banks and Cape Lookout   

Dates: Fri- Sun, May 3 - 6

Location: Emerald Isle, NC

Instructor/Guides: Rick Wiebush, James Kesterson

Cost: $375 (housing included)


This has been such a great trip in previous years, we just had to offer it again! The Outer Banks is a paddling paradise and we are going to spend three days exploring different areas of the OBX during a perfect time of the year!  In May the air temperatures are great and the water is between 65 – 70 degrees.


We have an 8 BR, 6 BA house that we will use as a base and it is right on the beach!  During the weekend, we’ll do a series of day trips including:


  • An 8 -10 mile circumnavigation of Carrot Island, first passing the historic town of Beaufort and then seeing ponies on the wilder part of the island.  If the group wants, we can extend this trip another 4-6 miles by going out to Shackleford Banks.

  • A 15 mile trip from Swansboro out to – and around – the totally undeveloped Bear Island.

  • A paddle to Cape Lookout National Seashore. I’ve done this trip and there is only one word to describe it: spectacular!


Housing, breakfast and lunch are included in the price. In the evenings, we can either cook at the house or go out to some of the great restaurants in the Beaufort/Swansboro area. If we have some time we should walk around Beaufort and maybe visit the fabulous Maritime museum.


James Kesterson will be helping to lead this trip. James is from Raleigh and considers the OBX his personal playground. You’ll love his style, and his incredible knowledge of the area!


Beaufort is approximately a 5.5 hour drive from the DC area. We will have the house starting on Thursday night, so people can come down after work that day.  We’ll paddle all day Friday and Saturday, and until about 3 PM on Sunday, so that people can get home that night if they want. (But we have the house for Sunday night too.)

The Gathering at Tangier Island

Dates: Fri - Mon.; May 24 - 27 , 2019

Location: Tangier, VA

Instructors/Trip Leaders: Rick Wiebush, Laurie Collins, Denise Parisi, inter alia

Cost: $425 (housing included)


The spring Gathering – usually held in Onancock, VA - will be on Tangier Island for the first time. We’ve chosen Tangier for several reasons including: 1) everyone who has come here to paddle with Cross Currents has absolutely loved it; 2) it is a fascinating community of watermen that has an incredible history (from the mid-1600’s) and unique culture; 3) there are several wonderful trips to do in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay; 4) we stay in quirky B&B’s and 5) the food is fabulous! Need any other reasons?


As in previous years, this will be for a small group (n=20-25) of Cross Currents customers and instructors/trip leaders, who will get together for a long four-day weekend.  We’ll catch the ferry from Crisfield MD on Friday, paddle that afternoon and all day Saturday, Sunday, and most of the day on Monday before getting the ferry back to Crisfield.

The Paddling


There are several very cool paddles to do and the one I really want to see happen is the five- mile crossing to Watts Island and back. It's weather dependent, but if we can do it, it's fabulous. We'll also circumnavigate Tangier, explore the "Uppards" and follow the chain of sandy islands that lead up to Smith Island. Most paddles are about 10 - 12 miles.


For each trip, people will have a choice between just paddling, or paddling and periodically working on skills. For those who are interested in working on some skills, we’ll be using a “teach n trek” model that is organized around the trip, but which is punctuated along the way with mini-skills sessions. Those sessions might include practicing certain strokes or maneuvers that are directly applicable to the environment we’re paddling through, short navigation lessons and exercises, or rescues, etc.  The basic idea is that we will not be sitting in one place each day concentrating just on skills development, but rather integrating skills improvement into our trip(s). 


But you can also skip the skills part and just paddle and enjoy the scenery! 


The trips will be for people of all skill levels (beginners excepted). Trips over the weekend will be selected from some of the following options:


·         Circumnavigation of Tangier Island (8 - 9 NM)

·         Exploring the various guts and sinuous creeks of the “Uppards”

·         Following a string of sandy isles north toward Smith Island and across the Virginia –Maryland border

·         Playing in a rambunctious (but safe) “zipper” at the extreme southern tip of the island

·         Making a five-mile crossing to Watts Island, a sliver of sandy land that is a bird sanctuary studded with clumps of pine and wild asparagus.



The $425 cost includes housing for three nights in one of two island B&Bs (about a five-minute walk from each other), the round-trip ferry, three breakfasts, two dinners, guiding and instruction.


The fee does not include the cost of one dinner, your lunches and snacks, your adult beverages, or your transport to/from Crisfield.


On the Friday night, we’ll have dinner at one of the islands great restaurants. The other two nights we’ll eat at Hilda Crockett’s B&B, which serves all-you-can-eat family- style meals. The food is just incredible. It includes some of the best crab cakes you’ll ever eat, clam fritters, baked ham, green beans, beets, applesauce and home-made bread! You’ll need to do a lot of walking around the island (check out the cemeteries) and a lot of paddling just to work off the dinners!

Intensive Intermediate Skills

Date: Sat. - Sun;  June 7 - 8, 2019

Location: Kent Island, MD

Instructors:  Denise Parisi, Laurie Collins, Shelly Wiechelt

Cost: $200

Take your skills to the next level! This is an intensive skills development course that will focus on learning or refining a whole range of core skills including strokes and maneuvers, edging, bracing and rescues. It is specifically designed for rising intermediate paddlers and is the perfect thing for them to do. 

The course will include refinement of many of the basic strokes (forward, reverse, sweeps, draws, stern rudder) and rescues (e.g. T-rescue, paddle float) as well as a range of intermediate strokes (e.g., bow rudder, low brace turn). We will place a major emphasis on edging to facilitate turns (or going straight!), bracing, and using the wind to your advantage.

The course is geared toward developing ACA Level 2 (and some Level 3) personal skills proficiencies.  But we won't be trying to teach you everything, since that leads to overload and a failure to retain anything.  Instead, we want to focus on the really important stuff and make sure you have those things nailed down by the time the weekend is over.


Paddle Smarter, Not Harder: Women’s Skills Workshop

Dates: Sat - Sun; June 22-23, 2019

Location: Chestertown, MD and Sassafras River

Instructor: Paula Hubbard

Cost: $225


The eight women who did this course last year absolutely loved it! The class emphasizes the ways in which women can use proper technique, better balance, and a supportive learning environment to develop and enhance skill development. Learn how small women can keep up with the big boys, or even leave them in the dust.  Explore ways of using your body to facilitate assisted and self-rescues, and see how a lower center of gravity can be a huge advantage in some aspects of paddling.  This is all about paddling smarter, not harder.


On Saturday, the focus will be on strokes.  It will start with a review of the basics, and emphasize effective use of the body to get the maximum performance with minimum effort.  Don’t worry about being the slowest paddler in a group, we will spend a lot of time on the forward stroke making keeping up easier.  Then we will work on boat control with grace and finesse.  This will include standard sweep strokes, draw strokes, and blending strokes for efficient, elegant, and precise maneuvers.  We will finish with support strokes, bracing and sculling.  These strokes can increase your confidence in rougher water by giving you more stability.  While it sounds very serious, be prepared for fun, games and lots of laughs, no pressure.


Sunday will be all about Recovery, Reentry and Rescues. The focus is on different ways to perform self and assisted rescues.  The class will start with a review of the basics, then we will work on different aspects of a rescue starting with boat maneuvering, using your body to effectively perform an assisted rescue, climbing back into a kayak using a variety of techniques,  plus a few more scenarios.  There will be more fun, more games and more laughs. 


As a bonus, the women will be staying in a B&B at the outstanding Crowe Vineyard on the Eastern Shore. Staying together gives us more opportunity to talk about paddling trips, skills and just have fun together. The cost will likely be around $50 per night for a shared room.


Exploring the Maine Coast

Dates: Sat - Sat; June 29 - July 6

Location: Brooklin and Bar Harbor, ME

Guide: Rick Wiebush

Cost: $795 (includes housing)


BUCKET LIST! This is a week-long Maine trip to explore the coastline in the greater Acadia area. We’ll be doing a series of day trips, many of which will include sections of the Maine Island Trail. This is an extremely dramatic coastline, some of which is protected by outer islands and some of which is exposed to bigger swell and rocks and ledges. There will be lots of lobster boats, fog and seals. We’ll go to the Cranberries, paddle in the Stonington archipelago and, near Bar Harbor, we’ll check out the Porcupines and the Keyhole (a slot where Sergio was once trapped upside down), and several other spectacular locations. For the more adventurous, we’ll check out Sullivan’s Falls for some current play. In short, this will be a spectacular trip.


We’ll be staying in an eight-bedroom, five-bath house that is centrally located to the various paddling venues. The $795 course cost includes housing (semi-private rooms for singles and private rooms for couples). It also includes fixings for breakfast and lunch everyday (I'll buy a bunch of stuff, but you make your own whatevers each day.)

Friday June 28 and/or Sat June 29 would be travel days. Ditto Sunday July 7th. It is an 11- hour drive from Baltimore to the Bar Harbor area. Flying to Bangor (closest airport) looks like it's expensive ($900). One possibility would be to fly to Portland via Southwest for about $450, rent a car and drive the three hours to the Bar Harbor area.

If you fly, you can get your boat transported for $100. There are also several kayak rental places in Bar Harbor. But you would have to find out about renting them for a week and taking the boat with you for that long.


L3 Instructor Development Workshop (IDW) and L3 Update

Dates: Fri. - Sun; July 19 - 21, 2019

Location: Chincoteague Island, VA

Instructor Trainer: Rick Wiebush

Cost: $325 (IDW); $250 (Update)

This is an Instructor Development Workshop (IDW) for those wishing to prepare for becoming an ACA L3 Coastal Kayaking Instructor.  It can also be used by current L3 instructors to meet the ACA requirement that you participate in an Update once every four years.

ACA Certification is a two-part process: The Instructor Development Workshop (IDW) which focuses on learning how to teach others, and the Instructor Certification Exam (ICE) which is the formal evaluation of skills. Certification is based upon paddling skills (e.g., strokes, rescues), general knowledge (e.g., tides and currents, navigation), and teaching skills.  Taking the course does not guarantee certification.

This course is an IDW only. The ICE assessment will be offered later, after participants have had an opportunity to practice for a couple of months.

In the IDW portion of the course, the instructor trainer models effective methods for teaching others kayak-related skills. Then the candidates have multiple opportunities over several days to practice their teaching skills. The course also places a strong emphasis on group management, risk assessment, incident management, and general knowledge such as navigation.

To participate in the course, you must have received the ACA L3 personal skills award. If you have not had that personal skills assessment, but have demonstrated L3 personal skills to me at some point, we can arrange with ACA to have that formally documented. You would then be eligible to take the IDW. The personal skills requirement is in place because an IDW is about learning how to teach effectively, not learning the skills yourself!


Current L3 Instructors and the Update

This IDW can serve as an update for current L3 instructors. The ACA requires that you attend an update once every four years. It does not have to be in the fourth year after you got certified. It can be at any time during the four-year period.

You can participate for two of the three days to qualify for the update. The cost is $250. As part of the update, you will be expected to demonstrate the same (or better) skills that led to your initial certification. You can also expect to dramatically expand your skill set during this course.

The group will be staying together in a big house near the venue. The housing cost (about $55/night for a semi-private room) is extra.

Introduction to Open Water Skills, Part I    

Date:  Sat. July 20, 2019 (Part II is on July 27 - 28)
Location: Kent Island (Kent Narrows), MD
Instructor: Greg Hollingsworth
Cost: $275 for both classes; $100 for just this class

This is a two-part course that will introduce paddlers to open water skills on the Chesapeake Bay, and then have people apply those skills in open water conditions during a weekend session at the shore.

Moving beyond flat water sea kayaking is what this course is all about.  It will provide you with a set of foundation skills that will help advance your paddling abilities and become comfortable and more confident in bouncier water. We will be focusing on the development of ACA Level 3 personal skills.

Part I will focus on a variety of skills that are directly applicable to open water.   We will work to refine the strokes and rescues you’ll need and will go through some fun drills to reinforce the learning. Our intent for this course is to make sure you grasp each skill, can apply it when needed and understand its relationship to your paddling in rougher conditions.

Intro to Open Water Skills,  Part II 

Dates:  Sat - Sun, July 27 - 28, 2019
Location: Metompkin Inlet (Onancock), VA  Eastern  Shore
Instructors: Greg Hollingsworth, Rick Wiebush
Cost: $275 for Parts I and II; $195 for Part II only

This course is designed for those who took Part I of Intro to Open Water Skills (on July 20) OR those who have taken some intermediate skills training and are looking to apply their skills in somewhat rougher water conditions.  This two-day course will expose you to paddling in surf, current and open water under the watchful supervision of qualified ACA instructors.  Metompkin Inlet is perfect because you can start in smaller surf and, if desired, move up to bigger stuff.

We’ll get acclimated to rougher water by practicing skills in smaller waves, including those skills that will keep you upright in waves and surf.  You will learn a variety of techniques to launch and land through surf and to play safely in the surf zone.   We’ll gradually increase the challenges by venturing into more challenging conditions. Rescue drills will be intermixed and, if conditions permit, we will try our hand at surfing our kayaks.


This is always a fun and exciting weekend.  You will come away with a new skill set and greater confidence. Part of what makes this a fun weekend is that we will be staying in a group house on the Virginia Eastern shore (near Onancock and the put in for Metompkin).  Housing is not included in the course fee, but is usually only about $50/night.


Intermediate and Advanced Surfing

Dates: Sat - Sun., July 27 -28, 2019

Location: Metompkin Inlet (Onancock, VA)

Instructor: Tom Noffsinger

Cost: $225

This course is outstanding and the people who take it are thrilled! The two-days focus on intermediate and advanced sea kayak surfing skills.  The goal is to provide you with the tools to better control your boat and to become a more accomplished sea kayak surfer. The first day will focus on specific skills in a logical progression.  Day two will involve more free surfing time, accompanied by specific one-on-one coaching about your individual progress.  The goal is to accelerate your skills with two surfing-specific days on the water.  If conditions allow, we will also provide video review and feedback.


You'll learn about on-wave positioning, adjusting your speed while surfing, recovery from side-surfing, top turns, bottom turns and how to deal with close-outs.  On-land topics will include strategies for different wave formations, use of the shoulder for breaking waves and staying on the peak of spilling waves. 


Previous experience in the surf is required, ideally through a surf zone strategies and sea kayak surfing courses.  A helmet is required along with the ability to self-rescue (cowboy, re-enter + roll, etc.).



Surf Sisters’: Intro to Surf

Dates: Sat. - Sun., July 27 - 28

Location: Metompkin Inlet, Onancock, VA

Instructor: Paula Hubbard

Cost: $200


This all-women course will focus on introducing people to the skills they need to play safely in the surf zone and to catch and ride waves.  The course will include understanding the surf zone, identifying safe areas, the take-off, timing, power strokes, holding position on the wave, and launching and landing, among others. There will be lots of drills to increase your confidence in a dynamic environment.

You’ll note that there is a major emphasis on safety and building confidence. It’s tough to learn when you’re afraid. Having an all-women’s group will help to create a supportive, non-competitive environment where everyone will free to try new things.


To take this course, you must have a good grasp on basic skills including forward and sweep strokes, bracing, and T rescues. Although this is an “intro” course, it is not for beginners. You need a helmet. If you don’t have one, we can probably borrow one for you.


The women will be staying together in a group house, in semi-private rooms. The cost of the housing is not included in the course fee. Expect to pay about $50 - $55 per night. In the evenings, we can either cook group meals or go out to one of the great nearby restaurants.

Smith Island Exploration

Dates: Fri - Sun; Aug 2 - 4

Location: Tylerton, Smith Island, MD

Instructor: Rick Wiebush

Cost: $325, includes housing


Smith Island is a waterman’s community of about 300 people that sits in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, right on the Maryland – Virginia border. In fact, two-thirds of the island is in Maryland and one-third in Virginia. Like Tangier, it is a maritime community steeped in history, with a distinct culture and dialect. The only way to get to it is by boat.


It is also a sea kayaking bonanza, since there are over 100 miles of waterways to explore, including Martin National Wildlife Refuge which is larger than Smith Island, and which effectively doubles the area that can be paddled.

Our trip will begin at the Crisfield dock at noon on the Friday, when we’ll get the ferry over to Smith.  After getting settled in our newly-renovated 4 BR 2 BA waterfront house, we’ll hit the water for three days of paddling. We can explore Martin National Wildlife Refuge, visit the three different communities on Smith, circumnavigate the island, cruise past (and under) crab sheds, watch the watermen bring in their haul, and explore the various guts and creeks that slice through the island. For dinners, we’ll be able to get some of the freshest seafood available and - if we are up to it – eat some famous Smith Island cake that has 10-12 layers swathed in chocolate icing!


Obviously, this is a do-not-miss Cross Currents trip!


The $325 covers two nights lodging, the round trip ferry, two breakfasts and lunches, and guiding. It does not include dinners, your snacks, adult beverages and your transportation to/from Crisfield.


Introduction to Rocks and Ledges

Dates: Fri - Sun Aug. 23 - 25

Location: Narragansett Bay, Newport, Rhode Island area

Instructors: Ken Fandetti, Rick Wiebush

Cost: $325


Join us on this very exciting and challenging course during which we will learn all the basic strategies for dealing with swell as it meets dramatic rocky shorelines and islands. It is just too much fun!

This is a three-day course. The first day (Fri) will focus on practicing the strokes and maneuvers that are used most frequently when playing in rocks and ledges. These include forward and reverse “sprints”, sculling draws and draws on the move, advanced stern rudders, bow rudders and low brace turns.  We’ll also review the safest strategies for dealing with the unexpected capsize near swell and rocks.  To see how these strokes and maneuvers work around rocks – and to develop confidence - we’ll practice in small play spots for most of the day.

Over the next two days, we’ll try some runs through narrow slots in the rocks, ride swell up to get as close to the rock face as possible and try some pour-overs. You'll learn how to use risk assessment to select appropriate play spots. We'll start with small features to develop water-reading skills and work our way up to bigger features.  In all play spots, what you do will be “challenge by choice” i.e. if you don’t feel comfortable trying something, that is totally fine. You can just watch or maybe try a smaller feature. This is about expanding your skills and challenging yourself; not about being stupid or unsafe.  This is not a testosterone challenge!

If you want to do this course you should be a pretty solid intermediate-level sea kayaker with good boat control and bracing skills.  A roll would be helpful but isn’t required. You do not need previous experience in rock gardens, although you are welcome to join us if you have had some exposure to this aspect of paddling. You definitely need a helmet.  

New York City Weekend: Circumnavigation of Manhattan and The Statue of Liberty

Dates: Sun. - Mon., Sept. 1 -2 , 2019

Location: Saturday: Red Hook, Brooklyn;  Sunday: NJ Science Center in Jersey City

Instructor/Guide: Rick Wiebush

Cost: $150 


This is a New York City immersion weekend. In addition to fabulous paddling experiences, it includes free housing for Saturday and Sunday nights. 

Manhattan. On the Sunday, we’ll do the 26 mile circumnavigation of Manhattan. As usual, we’ll take advantage of the (sometimes very) strong currents to give us a boost. It’s a varied trip in that we sometimes will be on flat, scenic water while at other times we’ll have to negotiate (read: avoid) the strong currents of the infamous Hell’s Gate and deal with the swells created by ferry wakes at the southern tip of Manhattan.  Making this trip even more special is that we will be doing it with just 10-15 people, rather than the 200 + paddlers that some of groups organize.


Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  On Monday, we’ll continue the New York waterways theme with a half-day paddle out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the entry point to the U.S. for thousands of immigrants in the early 1900's.  This will be a relatively light paddling day (about 8 NM), but we won't be able to get out of our boats at either place, so it will be lunch on the water. Just like the Manhattan trip, we'll have to keep a sharp eye out for all the heavy ferry traffic. But that will only add to the challenge and excitement of visiting these two iconic landmarks.  It will be well worth the effort as we gain spectacular views of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the Manhattan and Hoboken skylines, New York Harbor, and of course, the Statue!


Travel note: We are doing this over Labor Day weekend because New Yorkers clear out of the city for that weekend.  We will travel to north Jersey on Saturday afternoon (thus avoiding the traffic) and stay at two residences there Saturday and Sunday nights.  The Monday paddle is about a half day, so we can beat the traffic as we head home early afternoon.


ACA L3 Trip Leader Training/Assessment and BC 4* Prep 
Dates: Weds. - Thurs. Sept 25 -26 (right before Kiptopeke) 2019
Location: Kiptopeke State Park, VA Eastern Shore
Instructors: Jen Kleck, Rick Wiebush
Cost: $260


The purpose of this training – besides having a lot of fun in a fabulous place to paddle - is to prepare people who want to lead others in a moderate water environment (ACA L3 or BC 4*).  There will be a dual focus during these two days: training or assessment. One group will consist of paddlers who want to take the required L3 trip leader training course (training track).  The other group will consist of those who want to be assessed for certification as an ACA L3 Trip Leader (assessment track). In order to be assessed, you need to have taken the L3 Trip Leader training course (or have equivalent skills). Participation in this course will also provide strong preparation for BC 4*. However, it will not technically meet the BC requirements for 4* training or assessment.


There is a major emphasis in this course on leadership skills including planning, communication, risk assessment, and incident management. Skills such as navigation, rescues and towing in rougher water, and launching and landing a group in moderate surf also receive considerable attention. The L3 Trip Leader award (and BC 4*) are leadership awards, not coaching awards. More details about the ACA L3 Trip leader award can be found here:






We always rent a house in Cape Charles for these special pre-Kiptopeke classes. Housing costs are typically $50 - $55/night for a shared room.


Expedition Training: A Two-Day Intensive Practicum

Dates: Weds - Thurs., Sept. 25 - 26 (right before Kiptopeke)

Location: Kiptopeke State Park, VA

Instructor: Ed Schiller

Cost: $200


If youʼve ever enjoyed reading accounts of kayaking expeditions (usually accompanied by jaw-dropping photos) hereʼs your chance to learn the skills needed to do one of your own! Whether you aspire to multi-day trips or simple overnights, this two-day intensive will lay the foundation to get you started.


After a review of the essentials needed for kayak tripping (distance planning, gear selection, food, water, how to pack a kayak, camping spots, leave no trace principles, etc.), the group will plan out the dayʼs route and pack up the kayaks.  Using the course we’ve plotted, weʼll paddle about four miles to Mockhorn Island for lunch, set up camp and then spend the rest of the day exploring, using local conditions to practice skills.

The overnight on the island will provide plenty of time for learning how to set up cook stoves, cooking meals, managing camp sites, planning the next day’s paddle and maybe even a good ghost story around the campfire.  The following morning we’ll break camp, re-pack the kayaks and explore the shoreline, again practicing skills as we return to the mainland.


People who sign up for this course will receive a full equipment list prior to the class, but be prepared to bring a sleeping bag, tent, spare clothes in dry bags, food for two days and if you have one, a camp stove. You’ll be responsible for your own lunch and dinner the first day and for breakfast and lunch the second. Suggestions for appropriate foods to bring for meals will be included in the equipment list.  This will be fun!


Note that you do not have to participate in the symposium to do this special course.


9th Annual Kiptopeke Sea Kayaking Symposium

Dates: Sept. 27 - 29 (Fri - Sun) 2019
Location: Kiptopeke State Park, VA Eastern Shore
Coaches: Jen Kleck,  Tom Noffsinger, Alison Sigethy, Chris Raab, Ashley Brown, Jeff Atkins, Ed Schiller, Rick Wiebush, Brian Blankinship, Ken Fandetti, Paula Hubbard and more!
Cost: $450 includes all classes, 3 nights lodging and one dinner ($425 if registered and paid before June 1st.)

A three-day weekend of skills instruction and tours in the fabulous setting of the Virginia Barrier Islands.  14 top-notch instructors offer five calm water and five rough water courses each day. Courses for ALL ability levels. Not to be missed - people love this event!

Please see the "Symposium" tab for details.



The Low Country Gathering at Charleston

Dates: Fri - Sun., October  18 - 20, 2019

Location: Charleston, SC

Instructors: Ashley Brown, Jeff Atkins, Rick Wiebush

Cost: $375 


We are going back to Charleston this Fall! The past two years have been wonderful with perfect weather, great people and exciting paddling. Jeff and Ashley love hosting us, are highly-skilled paddlers, L5 instructors, and incredibly fun to paddle with.


Two Highlights: Night Navigation in Charleston Harbor and a Low Country Boil!


We are starting the season with the Gathering at Tangier and will start to wrap it up with a similar event in Charleston, South Carolina.  Join us for a long weekend in sunny, warm Charleston where we will have skills classes and trips for various skill levels.


Charleston is a fabulous paddling destination that offers opportunities for both calm and rough water paddling. Like the Tangier gathering, you will be able to mix and match trips and skills classes. Each day will be your choice: you can do a trip or take a skills class. The trips can include places like Charleston Harbor and historic Fort Sumter, and/or some of the backcountry marshes and creeks.  The exact skills classes will be determined by the desires of the participants, but can include intermediate skills on flat water and/or intro courses for dealing with current and surf. More advanced courses can focus on rougher water skills in current and Folly Beach surf. 


Whatever you decide to do, the weekend will be a blast! In addition to the paddling we will be staying together in a couple of fabulous (probably waterfront) houses close to the various paddling venues and sharing at least two group dinners. In addition, there is lots to see and do in Charleston for those who want some additional “extra-curricular” activities.  The group housing will cost between $50 - $55 per night. There are semi-private rooms for singles and private rooms for couples.


The basic plan is for people to drive down on Thursday so that we can paddle Friday, Saturday and at least part of Sunday.  Some people may want to head home on Sunday but we’re hoping that others and can stay and paddle all day Sunday and drive home Monday. If you can’t get away on Thursday, it’s ok if you just join us for Saturday and Sunday. Also, if you want to fly down Thursday night, we can arrange to pick you up at the airport and get you back there on Sunday or Monday.


Save these dates and let us know as soon as you can if you want to do this. It will likely sell out very quickly!

Pacific Baja –  Rock and Ledges + Lighthouse Stay 
Dates: Nov 9 - 17, 2019  (Sat. - Sun.)
Location: San Diego and Ensenada, Baja Mexico
Instructors:  Jen Kleck, Rick Wiebush, Victor Leon
Cost $895 (includes boats and equipment, 6 nights lodging, most meals, transportation to Baja and back; instruction)

Join us for a week-long trip that will feature rock gardening and a crossing to Todos Santos islands where we’ll spend the night in a lighthouse overlooking the Pacific Ocean!  This year we have added another day to the trip so that we can experience some of the great aspects of Mexican culture.  We'll visit the Ensenada waterfront with its' famous, bustling fish markets; get some spectacular street food, and visit either a local vineyard or a Mexican brewery.

We will be spending six days playing amidst the rocks and waves of the Pacific coast. The shoreline here is absolutely gorgeous, with mountains rising up from the sea, and massive stone pillars and caves dotting the coast. It is also a paddler’s playground with all kinds of features that are easily accessible and safe. As is always the case with our rock gardening courses, this will be challenge by choice – if you don’t feel comfortable doing something, it’s totally fine to not do it. But you will be thrilled by the challenges you do take on. We brought four different groups here in 2016 and 2017, and everyone called it one of the best paddling trips they’ve ever done!

This trip is for those who have had some experience with rock gardening, surf, or have pretty solid 3* skills.

The 9th (fly into San Diego) and 17th (fly back) are travel dates.