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

And here's the schedule!

It's definitely winter here on Union River Bay - over 5 feet of snow has fallen in the past 2 weeks - but I've found time between all the storms to complete our schedule of courses for this spring, summer and fall. 

You can find what we have to offer this year on the Pinniped Kayak website.  From Tidal Currents to expeditions along the Bold Coast - take a look at the trainings and adventures we have planned, and let us know what catches your interest.  If there’s something else you’d like us to offer, just drop me a line - as usual we've left some room in the schedule to cater to special requests.

Since many of you traveled quite a distance to paddle with us last season, I’ve made an attempt to cluster classes by skill level, so that if you wish to sample the “best-of-the-region” you can take part in a handful of classes during your visiting.  For example, between July 6th and 9th I plan to teach Rocks & Ledges, Tidal Currents, and Incident Management, followed by a Journey in the Petit Manan area (puffins!).  Or if you just want to wail on the reversing tidal falls, for which the downeast coast is known, join us for 3 or 4 days of Tidal Currents during one of two special training events.  You’ll find groupings like this throughout the calendar this year to allow you to get the most out of a visit to the area.  

We have also expanded our Journey series for 2015.  These courses-on-the-move provide the opportunity to apply the skills you’ve been working on, and refine them in the context of exploring some stunning paddling destinations in our area.  These journeys range in length from single day itineraries to a week-long training expedition along the easternmost coastline of the United States. 

As we wait for spring, I hope you all find someplace warm to paddle this winter (whether that’s in the pool, or off in the tropics) and I look forward to seeing all of you in the upcoming year, paddling together in Downeast Maine!

- Nate Hanson

A New Year for paddling!

It’s been 2 months since students departed from our last courses of 2014 (in the midst of an epic early-November snowstorm!), and now that we’ve officially begun a new calendar year, it seems a good time to reflect on my first season running Pinniped Kayak.  I started this company to provide more opportunities for sea kayak training in the excellent paddling locations of Downeast Maine, emphasizing a safe, rewarding, exciting training experience.  I suspected that more people would come to the area if the right sort of company offered the right kind of courses, and it seems that I may have been right!  Over the past 6 months, Michael, Rebecca and I had the pleasure of working with nearly 100 individuals, from 15 states, 4 Canadian provinces, and 6 countries.  A few students were sitting in a sea kayak for the very first time, while many came to test the mettle of their fundamental skills in environments and paddling locales that they can’t find in their home waters.  Courses ranged in length from 2 hours to 10 days, in venues as disparate as a lily-strewn pond and an exposed tidal stream with 8-foot breaking waves.  Variety was the name of the game, and I was incredibly pleased to spend time on the water with so many great people.

I am finishing 2014 feeling very grateful to all of you who paddled with us, told your friends about us, and offered your advice, experience and support.  

For 2015, I’m making my list of kayaking New Year’s resolutions, and though I may only accomplish half of those goals in these 12 fleeing months, I’m excited to continue evolving as a paddler.  Furthermore, I’m looking forward to seeing other paddlers gaining confidence, meeting new challenges, and finding joy in the awesome power of salty water!

Pinniped Kayak has all kinds of plans for 2015 that I look forward to sharing with you very soon.  In the meantime, I’m eager to hear from all of you - If you have ideas for classes or adventures you’d like to see on our schedule in 2015, please send those along.  I can be reached at, or you can drop us a line on our Facebook page (   

Happy 2015!   

15 feet

In October, Michael, Rebecca, and I spent a beautiful day playing on the Flood and Ebb tides at Sullivan Falls, one of our favorite teaching spots.   With a range of nearly 15 feet between the high and low tides, we surfed some really nice waves that don't form at lower flows, and did our best to tackle some waves that turned into growling heaps of foam at this wild spring-tide level.

I'm currently working on our course schedule for 2015, and have enjoyed hearing requests for particular classes from a handful of students already.  I look forward to seeing many of you when these warm sunny days return next spring!