For your safety and maximum enjoyment of our classes, it is important to fully read the information provided here before the start of your class. We encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.

Experience Required

  • All participants should have sufficient upper body strength to pull oneself out of a swimming pool unassisted.
    This is the equivalent minimum physical ability required to safely participate in our classes. 
  • For all of our on-water classes, participants must be able to swim 50 yards unassisted and tread water for 5 minutes.
  • The majority of our classes are for new or beginning students however each class description lists prior skills that may be required.
  • Students with concerns about their physical ability or needing special accommodations should speak with our staff before registering for a class.

What to Expect

"Hope for the best, but plan for the worst" is a good mantra to use when attending outdoor classes. While our beautiful summers are what keep Bellingham residents around, we have our fair share of bad weather and the water is always cold (about 50F year round). For all of our on-the-water classes you should plan as if you might get wet. We provide all the basic safety equipment and gear needed for your program, but you need to provide your own outdoor suitable clothing, personal gear, food, and rain gear. If you do not have all of the equipment, let us know and we will help you find it. We have wetsuits and paddle jackets, but you are welcome to bring your own.

Participants should always arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of class to fill out final paperwork, gear-up, and get started on time.

How to Prepare

  • Cotton is not a good clothing material as it does not keep you warm when it gets wet.
  • You should bring all the clothes, medications, snacks, water, and items needed to keep your body functioning well and your mind happy.
  • Clothing can be either worn or brought with you in your day bag, and we also have dry bags available for use during class.
  • Layers are the key to dressing comfortably. Choosing multiple lighter layers to adjust to the temperature work better than one or two heavy layers.
  • Wool, poly-pro, or other synthetic fabrics work best for our class settings.
  • Outdoor recreation does not always have to be pricey, and thrift-stores are great places to find second hand fleeces, running tights, hats, etc.

Class Location

Unless otherwise noted, all of our classes run at The Community Boating Center (555 Harris Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225 - map here). 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.

Cancellations and Refunds

Life, the weather, and outdoor recreation can be unpredictable. We try to be flexible if you'd like to withdraw from a class and ask that you are flexible with us as well.

If the Boating Center Cancels a Class

  • The Boating Center reserves the right to cancel or postpone a class at any point due to weather, safety concerns, instructor illness, equipment problems, insufficient participants, and other necessary reasons.
  • If a class is cancelled in its entirety all participants are eligible for credit toward another class or service in that calendar year. Depending on the situation, we may be able to offer up to 50% refunds for registration payments.
  • For a multi-session class the Boating Center will provide one alternate class session for each session cancelled due to weather. We will schedule an alternate session which works for the majority of participants however we cannot guarantee that every student will be able to make an alternate class session.

Participant Cancellations, Refunds, and No-shows

  • Registration payments are refundable if cancellation is made two or more weeks in advance of the first date of your program. We are able to offer up to a 75% refund, as we must cover our credit card processing fee and our administrative fees.
  • Registration payments are forfeited if cancellation is made within two weeks of the first date of your program.
  • We are happy to apply your course fee as a credit to another class if you are unable to attend your original course. To apply your course fee as credit, you must provide advance notice of at least seven days prior to your original course date. You are only able to reschedule once. All courses to which credit is applied must occur within the same calendar year as the original course.
  • No-shows for a class are not eligible for a refund or class credit.
  • Documentation of exceptional circumstances may qualify for a refund or credit on a case-by-case basis.