Kayaking Foundations: Skills and Safety for Paddling in the PNW (June 2022)

Trip report:

The Pacific Northwest is a popular area to enjoy salt and fresh water. There are more than 250,000 “registered” boats in Washington state not counting “unregistered” watercraft like kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, sailboats under 16 feet in length without a motor. Drownings in communities of color are more than double that of the White population. In most cases properly worn life jackets would have saved lives. Water education and safety for the BIPOC community is critical. Not receiving it is lethal.

This on-shore and on-water paddle safety + skills class at Deception Pass State Park achieved its goals (1) get BIPOC on the water in sea kayaks; (2) grow BIPOC outdoor community; (3) provide a clear understanding that we play in water but water doesn’t play (especially cold water) (4) provide basic sea kayaking knowledge to keep paddlers safe on the shoreline (5) pave the way for valuing skill progression in sea kayaking. With Salish Sea water temps showing in the 40’s, learners felt how important preparedness, education/skills, and practice (along with listening to our bodies and honoring our physical limitations) are to making sure that every trip and round trip. These skill-building and BIPOC outdoor Community building campouts are extremely important.

Participant Praise:

Being a Washington transplant, I settled into a lifestyle mostly absent of the diversity, cultures, and communities that feel like home to me and it hasn’t brought many meaningful connections outside of my immediate family. I can get out there and change that. If I want to be outdoorsy, then I have to get outdoors.”

I did not know the difference between recreational or sea kayaking. It really opened my eyes to more possibilities when it comes to experiencing outdoor activities.”

Jumping in a boat just because I somewhat know how to paddle is a recipe for disaster without mastery of rescue, re-entry, and navigation.”

Gratitude to the adventurous paddlers who stuffed in and out of drysuits and practiced uncomfortable new things in the Salish Sea. Captain Phyllis Woolwine (Shearwater University). Justice Outside. You are committed to supporting Black, Indigenous, and Communities of Color in the movement towards a more racially-just outdoors.

If you missed this experience, check back in 2023.