Skill Levels

Each of our programs is assigned a level of difficulty to help you choose one appropriate to you ability and interest.

These levels are guidelines. The actual conditions and challenges on any program will vary, just as the environment does. SKILS hires strong staff and respects their decision-making abilities. If you have questions or concerns about our staff and our programs, please let us know.

 

Novice Programs

Novice courses are designed to meet the needs of curious paddlers. No previous experience is necessary; but you are encouraged to have some comfort in and around the water. Kayaking is a water sport – if you are not comfortable in the water, please let us know.

These programs are run in contained environments, in close proximity to emergency medical services with minimal currents, winds, and surf.

 

Beginner Programs

These courses are designed to meet the needs of adventuresome paddlers. No previous experience is necessary, but some exposure to the ocean or other paddle sports will enhance your enjoyment of these courses. Participants are expected to have a minimum comfort level in and around the water. These courses require you to swim a short distance and to place your face under the water.

These programs operate within ocean and open water environments, in close proximity to emergency medical services. Currents and winds are expected, but we try to choose areas within reasonable limits. We recommend that beginner paddlers not be exposed to winds exceeding 15 knots (25 km/hour). We do not paddle with beginner paddlers in winds exceeding 20 knots (40 km/hour). Also, currents should not exceed 1.5 knots, and crossings should not be longer than 3 nautical miles.  Examples of these programs include:

 

Intermediate Programs

Our intermediate courses are designed to meet the needs of paddlers with some ocean paddling experience. These courses cover more complex skills necessary to paddling in rougher conditions and more remote locations. Previous training is required. Comfort in the water is also a prerequisite. This level is a minimum prerequisite for challenging professional programs.

These programs operate within exposed ocean environments. Access to emergency medical services may be delayed. Currents, winds, swell, and surf are expected, but we try to choose areas within reasonable limits. We try to limit our paddling environment with intermediate paddlers to winds less 25 knots, currents less than 3 knots, swell less than 2 meters, and surf less than 1 meter. Crossings should not be longer than 5 nautical miles. Examples of these programs include:

 

Advanced Programs

Our advanced courses are designed to meet the needs of experienced paddlers. There is a strong emphasis on leadership and risk assessment in these courses, reflecting the fact that paddlers at this level are often looked to for advice and leadership. This level is required for challenging intermediate and advanced professional programs. Participants are exposed to larger objective risks including strong currents, winds, and waves; as a result, you must have a solid foundation in knowledge and experience on the ocean to participate.

These programs operate within exposed ocean and open water environments with surf zones, and limited landing options. Access to emergency medical services can be delayed indefinitely. Currents, winds, swell, and surf are expected, but we try to choose areas within reasonable limits. We try not to paddle with advanced paddlers in winds exceeding 30 knots. Currents can exceed 6 knots. Swell up to 3 metres, and surf up to 1.5 metres. Crossings can be up to 10 nautical miles.  Examples of these programs include: