1.1 Syllabus

The Sea Kayak Award is intended for paddlers who can safely plan and undertake trips on the sea in winds up to force 3 and tides up to 1 knot. The award syllabus is available online at the British Canoeing Awarding Body website, and is summarized as a set of skills below. It’s important to note that, whilst the syllabus does contain some paddling skills, the majority of it covers the knowledge required to safely plan and undertake a day’s paddling on the sea. In particular, it’s hard to over-state the importance of being able to synthesize information from maps, guidebooks, tide tables and weather forecasts to come up with a good plan for the day.

1.1.1 Location and Planning

Create a plan for the day, considering wind, tide, swell, other water uses etc.

  • Obtain and describe a wind forecast

  • Understand the impact of wind (including local / topographic effects) on sea kayakers

  • Obtain and describe a swell forecast

  • Obtain times of high and low water and describe the effect of tides on plans

  • (At a basic level - be able to forecast tidal streams)

  • Be able to find and evaluate access and escape options

  • Be able to synthesize the information described above to formulate a plan for a safe day’s sea kayaking

1.1.2 Kit

Decide what to take, and describe other options (e.g. for winter). Describe how you’d repair a boat.

  • Decide what to wear, describe other options

  • Describe different boat designs, their intended uses and how they feel to paddle

  • Describe different paddle designs, their advantages and disadvantages

  • Know what safety kit to take sea kayaking

  • Describe how to perform a simple boat repair

1.1.3 Safety

Deal with a cold casualty, summon help (identifying location), group skills, towing

  • Know how to avoid, recognise and treat hypothermia and hyperthermia

  • Describe equipment and approaches for summoning outside help

  • Be able to navigate along a coastline

  • Be able to work around other water users, including large vessels

  • Be able to communicate effectively with your paddling group

  • Be able to tow both an individual and a raft with an incapacitated paddler

1.1.4 Dry(er) Skills

Paddle forward efficiently, including in wind. manoeuvre effectively in confined spaces

  • Demonstrate effective and efficient forward paddling

  • Be able to maintain direction in winds up to force 3

  • Demonstrate effective and efficient turning of a sea kayak

  • Be able to move the boat sideways

  • Demonstrate entry and exit of confined spaces (rockhopping)

1.1.5 Wetter skills

Brace, self rescue, assisted rescue

  • Demonstrate a brace with the boat off-balance

  • Demonstrate a self rescue in simple conditions

  • Demonstrate an assisted rescue as victim and rescuer, including dealing with loose kit