Guided Group Paddles - Applying skills, and building a paddling community.


Hello Local Paddlers,

Becoming a better paddler involves the right instruction, but also plenty of time on the water.  This year I'd like to help provide more opportunities for local students to get out on the water and practice their skills, outside of the formal training environment, so some of the Pinniped Kayak assistant instructors will be running Guided Practice Paddles throughout the summer.  (Let me know if you have a better name for these!)

These outings will be facilitated by an ACA instructor, who can offer paddling tips and guidance, and generally help the group have a safe, productive and well-organized time on the water.  In addition to skills-development, we'd like to help build the paddling community in our area;  we hope that these outings will allow you to connect with like-minded paddlers, and spin-off your own group outings in the area. 

Gordo Wissinger (ACA L3 Coastal Kayak Instructor, Registered Maine Guide), will be running our first two Guided Practice Paddles in the Mount Desert Island area on Sat June 17, from 1 - 5 pm, and Sat July 1, from 9 am - 1 pm.  The locations will be determined based on conditions, and shared a couple days before the trip.  The cost is $25 per person.  (To keep this simple and affordable, we'd prefer that people provide their own equipment, and pay cash or check at the put-in please.  If you are in a bind with gear, perhaps we can work something out for you.)

These first paddles will be fairly low key - perhaps 6-8 miles at 2.5 - 3 knots, and keeping to fairly protected waters.  If there is interest in longer or more adventuresome trips in the future we can consider that as we add more dates.

Contact me by phone or email with questions, and if you'd like to register you can do so on the Pinniped website.

See you on the water!


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2017 Season Update

Hello kayaking friends,                        

Though downeast Maine seems to be alternating between mid-spring warmth and dead-of-winter cold this year, we’re assuming that inviting paddling weather will arrive on the usual schedule.  To that end, I’m busy filling the Pinniped calendar with a mix of courses and journeys ranging from beginner weekends for people just getting started, to some adventures aimed at ambitious long-time paddlers.  Although the calendar is still a work in progress, you keep can check it out on the website.  We can still accommodate special requests at this point (particularly in August), so if you want to see a certain course during a time that works for you, please let me know.
Here are some highlights to look forward to:

•  I will be leading our multi-day journey courses this season.  We plan to visit Marshall Island in early August, and we will repeat our popular fall expedition downeast, exploring the outlying islands along the most challenging portion of the Maine coastline. 

•  We have scheduled 3-day Paddler Development Weekends in July and September.  These longer courses will provide the opportunity for more in-depth focus and refinement, improving underlying skills and applying them in more advanced environments. 

•  Though many of our students are traveling to the area for more advanced training, we are also trying to support those who are still working on fundamental skills.  We have a few clusters of classes this year aimed at beginners.  Please help us spread the word so we can share this awesome sport with newcomers and those who have not had previous instruction. 

•  For those paddlers who are looking to make big strides in their kayaking this year (regardless of your current level) I am accepting Long-Term Students.  The most rewarding relationships that I have with students are ones which allow us to consider the long-view, and build a comprehensive plan for individual paddler development, throughout a season and beyond.  If you are interested in committing to 6 or more days of instruction this year, I will commit to helping you to make long-term gains in your paddling development, and spending time with you on goal-setting and practice-planning, as well as incorporating some more time-intensive coaching tools like video analysis into our sessions.  Please get in touch with me to discuss this possibility in more detail. 

•  Finally, a reminder that I am happy to help students get outfitted for the season with boats from P&H and paddling gear from the suppliers that have performed the best for me.  You will find used gear listed on the website from time to time, and new equipment is available with a short lead-time.  Let me know how I can help get you ready for the upcoming season. 

I look forward to paddling with all of you again this year.  Until then, be well!


Thoughts on Sea Kayak Safety, in light of the recent fatalities in Downeast Maine

Many of you in Maine and those of you in the sea kayaking community have probably heard about the paddling fatalities last week in Downeast Maine. I understand Ed was a good man, and I know this loss is felt deeply in Gouldsboro.

I'd like the paddling community to look forward from this incident and consider our own behavior, rather than Ed's. Sea kayaking is an adventure sport where training and preparation are an important part of staying safe. While we can never eliminate all risk from outdoor pursuits, there is a lot that we can do to manage and minimize those risks.

The sea is large, and strong, and beautiful. We can safely have all kinds of adventures on the sea, but we need to be mindful of how we prepare ourselves for those adventures. I'd encourage everyone who takes to the water in paddlecraft - no matter how long you've been doing it - to seek qualified instruction from time to time. (And I include myself in that advice - In addition to running a sea kayak training company and training guides for the tour industry, I seek out instruction every season to expand my own abilities and understanding, so that I can be as prepared as possible for all the adventures that the sea has to offer.)

Check the weather and carefully choose your paddling area. Seek training in the environments you might encounter. Practice rescues in rough water where you have a safety net (with an instructor, or at the very least getting blown towards a safe shore nearby). Dress so that you can function for a while in cold water. Have viable emergency plans for when things go wrong despite all of the above.

Be safe and enjoy this amazing sport!

- Nate Hanson

Here's how our season is shaping up!

Hello friends and paddlers!

Though there is a trace of snow in the air this morning, the flakes feel like a pretty transparent bluff by a fading winter that never was.  Flowers are poking through the ground, and I've been busily putting together a diverse and exciting line-up for our up-coming paddling season.  You can view the entire schedule on our website.

Fall Update from Pinniped Kayak

Hello paddlers and friends,

It's been a great season so far, and I'd like to thank many of you for joining us for a variety of classes this summer - everything from calm days on a local pond, to some thunderous days among the cliffs of the Porcupine Islands or Bois Bubert.   (We do our best to keep our Facebook page well-populated with pictures from our events, so that you can follow along when you aren't able to be on the water with us.)

As we get deeper into September, most of my attention turns to working with students at College of the Atlantic - preparing them over the course of this year to lead freshman orientation trips by sea kayak next fall.  However we've got two more great events planned towards the end of the Fall, and we'd love for you to come paddle with us one more time this year. 

  • We are expanding on the Bumpy Water Weekend that was such a big hit last fall - three days of the best paddling and instruction that our area has to offer.  October 24th is Rough Water du Jour (heading out to wherever we'll get the best conditions for surfing, rock-gardening, or general fun).  October 25th will find us working some bigger tides at Sullivan Falls (big surf waves for chargers, and plenty of more approachable features for those who are still easing into tidal currents play).  And on Monday October 26th we will run an Incident Management and Avoidance class (a creative scenario-based class where we will challenge students with real-world problems they need to resolve).  More information on the Bumpy Water Weekend is available on the website.  Let us know if you are interested in joining us for any or all of those days.
  • During the first weekend in November, I am excited to be offering an ACA L3 Instructor Development Workshop with my mentor Todd Wright.  This three day course will introduce candidates to a variety of approaches for effectively introducing others to the sport of sea kayaking.  We will also help candidates refine their own personal skills and group management abilities.  This course has been filling quickly, but we do have a couple spots left.  If you have questions about joining us, please drop me a line. 

    In case anyone is looking to add to their fleet this fall, we do have a handful of boats for sale, including both sizes of Delphin (from 2014 and '15), a Valley Etain 17-7 RM, and a Valley Aquanaut (composite).   Details are listed here.

    Keep in touch!  I'd love to hear from you about how your paddling season has been, and what your goals are for next season.  You can let us know how we've been doing by phone, email, or by writing a review on our TripAdvisor page.  Or you can just tell us you need more Pinniped Stickers - I'd be happy to drop them in the mail for you!

Thanks again for being a part of Pinniped Kayak!
- Nate

Adventure Kayak Magazine

When Adventure Kayak magazine editor Virginia Marshall asked me to put together a short article for their summer issue, it sounded like a fun opportunity.  With some great advice from friends who do a lot more writing than I, and from the editor herself, this is what I came up with.  Enjoy!

- Nate