by Bill Mauney

Paddling on the coast, whether in the ocean, bays, sounds, inlets or estuaries, requires that the paddler develop seamanship in order to have a comfortable and safe adventure in these larger bodies of water.  But, what is seamanship?  Seamanship embodies a wide variety of both knowledge and skills required to handle your kayak competently, efficiently, safely and legally.  The body of knowledge to be mastered over time includes such topics as a basic weather prediction, trip planning, tides, tidal currents, waves, navigation and the Navigation Rules (the federal regulations we must adhere to).  In addition, good seamanship includes good boat handling, capsize recovery and rescues skills.

Mastering each of these areas does not happen overnight, but that is the beauty of it.  Learning good seamanship is a life-long endeavor, an adventure in and of itself.  As your seamanship knowledge and skills develop, new horizons literally open up for you to explore.  Reading the weather and the sea, knowing where you are and how to get to your destination, paddling with confidence in waves and currents, knowing what to do when your path crosses other, larger vessels all combine to provide a satisfying synergistic experience that makes each adventure on the water more memorable.

The knowledge needed for good seamanship can be learned by self study of good books, good websites, taking classes and paddling with good seamen who can teach you their craft.  Paddling skills are best learned through on the water classes led by competent instructors.  Great Outdoor Provision Co. offers a fine selection of great books on the subject, classes on seamanship topics and on-the-water instruction.  Our website is a wonderful resource for paddlers.  We will continue to update the site with topics of interest to the paddler.

A great way to get an overview of basic seamanship for paddlers is from the DVD Seamanship for Kayakers…Getting Started.  It is a first of a series of DVDs on seamanship for kayakers.  Not your typical instructional video, the material is unwrapped as you follow a group of novice sea kayakers and their guides on a trip in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.  You will also be following a group of rookies who learn everything the hard way.  This DVD offers the sea gull’s eye view of the sport of sea kayaking.  I highly recommend it.  Drop by your local shop and pickup a copy while supplies last.

See you on the water.

Read More in our Coastal Paddling Series