Quickstart Your Kayak

$65/person, 3 hour class, maximum 10 participants

sk shore

The CBC's Quickstart Your Kayak course is perfect if you are a novice who is interested in finding out what sea kayaking is all about! During this course, students will learn the basics of sea kayaking, such as paddle strokes, terminology, basic maneuvers, and cold water safety. You will also get to experience beautiful Bellingham Bay from the water and enjoy the marine environment. If you like this course, you're bound to love our Introduction to Kayaking or our Essentials of Coastal Kayaking course.

2020 Quickstart Your Kayak Class Dates

June 20th, 27th, 28th

July 5th, 25th

August 1st, 8th, 16th, 22nd, 30th

Introduction to Kayaking

$130/person, 6 hour class, maximum 10 participants


This 6-hour course is designed as a short program emphasizing safety, enjoyment and skill acquisition for beginning paddlers.  Skills transfer to any type of kayak including traditional decked kayaks (sea kayaks), inflatables and sit-on tops in calm, flat water, protected from wind, waves and outside boat traffic, with no apparent current and within swimming distance of shore.  Exiting a sea kayak while wearing a spray skirt will be taught.  Re-entering a kayak (self -rescue) after a capsize will be demonstrated by the instructor but not required of students. Additionally, students have the opportunity to form connections with their classmates, leading to paddle buddies for future adventures after class.

CBC is able to provide sit-on-top kayaks, but if students would like to bring their own, they will receive a $15 discount off the final price of the course.

Note: Wet exit and self-recovery methods are required skills to rent sea kayaks from the CBC.

Prerequisite: None

Next Step: Essentials of Coastal Kayaking

2020 Introduction to Kayaking Class Dates

June 16th

June 28th

July 26th

August 9th

September 12th

Essentials of Coastal Kayaking

$200/person, 9 hour class, maximum 10 participants

intro to sea kayaking

Our Essentials of Coastal Kayaking course is offered in two formats: three 3-hour sessions, or one 9 hour session. Both sessions cover the same material, and total nine hours of instruction. This class is ideal for novices, or paddlers who may have spent time on the water but have not had a technical introduction to paddling fundamentals. Students learn parts of a kayak, necessary safety gear for sea kayaking and how to use that gear, a combination of strokes and maneuvers to gain confidence and boat control along with rescues such as wet exits, solo deep-water reentries, and assisted deep-water reentries. Additionally, students have the opportunity to form connections with their classmates, leading to paddling buddies for future adventures after class. Because wet exits and self-recoveries are covered in this course, by passing students are qualified to rent CBC sea kayaks. Instructor to student ratio is 1:5. Depending on the number of registrants, either one or two instructors will teach the course.

Prerequisites: None

Instructor to student ratio is 1:5. Depending on the number of registrants, either one or two instructors will teach the course.

*To rent CBC sea kayaks, an individual must have prior experience with wet exits and self recoveries, either personal, or through the CBC's Rescues and Recoveries course, or this Essentials of Coastal Kayaking course.

Class Content Includes:

  • Parts of a kayak
  • Steering and edging
  • Proper stroke technique; forward, sweep, back, draw, low brace
  • Proper wet-exit techniques and tips
  • Basic self-rescue using a paddle float (paddle floats are equipped with all our kayak rentals)
  • Basic assisted recovery

2020 Essentials of Coastal Kayaking Course Dates

Custom dates available upon request!

Three Day Classes:

June 17th, 24th and July 1st

July 16th, 23rd and 30th

One Day Classes:

June 13th-14th (A special two day class)

July 12th

August 8th

August 15th

September 13th

Rescues & Recoveries

$79/person + 1hr FREE kayak rental, 3.5 hour class, maximum 10 participants


Have you been out sea kayaking and didn't realize there is safety training needed? Or has is just been a while since you have practiced doing a wet exit and recovery? Or are you interested in renting our sea kayaks but have never done a wet exit or recovery? This course is designed to get you quickly out on the water practicing wet exits, and reentries. You will learn how to slow down and think through the steps, disengage your sprayskirt, and to get out of the boat to then begin the reentry. You will practice several methods of reentering your kayak including using a paddle float, cowboy method, and assisted. We provide you with all the gear needed including a wetsuit and spray jacket to keep you warm. If you would like to use your own boat that is okay too.

Class Content Includes:

  • Proper wet-exit techniques and tips
  • Basic self-rescue using a paddle float (paddle floats are equipped with all our kayak rentals)
  • Basic assisted recovery

2020 Rescues & Recoveries Class Dates

Custom dates available upon request!

May 10th

June 21st

July 19th

August 23rd

Race Prep & Safety Course for Ski to Sea

$45/person, 3 hour class, maximum 10 participants

Learn more about Ski to Sea rentals!

CBC Ski to Sea Safety Prep Course

Prepare for the Ski to Sea kayak leg through our Race Prep & Safety course. This course provides participants with the basic safety skills needed to recover themselves and their boat from a capsize in deep water. The class covers wet exit and self recovery technique (no rolling techniques are covered as this class is only intended for beginners or as a refresher), basic cold-water safety knowledge, paddling techniques and tips, quick launching, and discussion of the Ski to Sea race course (both long and short courses). Included in the price of the class are three 1-hour kayak rental vouchers for use for class participants who would like to practice prior to the race on May 26th.

2020 Race Prep & Safety Class Dates



Private Lessons

$60/hour, +$40/hour/additional student

Enjoy a customized lesson to fit your needs. Private lessons are a great way to enhance your kayaking skills and enjoy one-on-one instruction. Our private lessons are tailored to your comfort, experience level, and desired learning objectives. Lessons can include kayaking fundamentals, technique, and performance skills, wet exits and recoveries, youth safety for sit-on-top kayaks, or whatever your specific needs require.

Contact our Programs Manager for more details and to schedule your private lesson.

Planning & Preparation

Though you may not be going in the water every class, please plan on it. The Community Boating Center will provide: kayaks, paddles, spray skirts, pumps, paddle floats, PFDs (life jackets), paddle jackets and wetsuits. If you already own a sea kayak (not a sit on top), you are welcome to use your own equipment but please check in with us first.

This is a rain or shine class! The only time a class will be rescheduled is in the case of extreme weather or lightning.

You need to bring:

  • Extra layers (e.g. long underwear, medium weight fleece, etc. to wear under your wetsuit --- NO COTTON!)
  • Swimsuit
  • 1 hat for sun shade, 1 hat for warmth
  • Footwear that can get wet. Open toe sandals are not recommended!
    Old tennis/running shoes, “pool shoes,” closed toe sandals, etc. work well)
  • Towel
  • Warm clothes to drive home in
  • Glasses strap
  • Water & snacks
  • Optional items you might consider could include: nose clip, paddle gloves
  • Those with contact lenses might want to switch to glasses (with a strap) or wear pool goggles or a diving/snorkel mask for the wet exit and rescue sessions.

Textbook: Our textbook "Sea Kayaking Illustrated" is a highly informative and entertaining sea kayaking instructional book. We don't require students to purchase it, but if you want to supplement classroom instruction with a great textbook on the topic we recommend this one. You can find it at local bookstores or online retailers.

Class Location: This class will take place at The Community Boating Center at 555 Harris Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225 (Google Maps). The Boating Center is located immediately next to the public boat launch in Fairhaven. Parking can be found next to the railroad tracks in front of the Boating Center or along Harris Avenue if no other spaces are available. Please do not park in the Port of Bellingham's trailer parking lot as this requires a paid launch permit.

For more information, visit our What to Expect page.