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Online Trip Planning Workshop


This event repeats every week on Saturday until 03/27/2021

Event details


A set of 3 sessions over Zoom, aimed at improving paddlers’ ability to research, plan and execute paddling trips in typical local areas used by the club, up to NSPN Level 3. No prior experience is needed. Joe Berkovitz and Bob Levine will co-teach this class.

The class is built around an online workbook of exercises created by the instructors and others. Lecture and presentation will be kept to a minimum. Wherever possible, material will be introduced in the context of solving real-world problems. Some exercises will be done online with the instructors, some in student breakout sessions or “pods”, and some offline.

As a culminating exercise, small groups students will plan one or more “fantasy” paddles given a set of expected weather conditions, and present their plans to the class for critique.

Registration is not limited. If there are over 12 students, we will ask more experienced paddlers to limit their interaction with us (i.e. audit the course), so that we can give less experienced folks the individual attention they need.


You can register using this form: 



On three Saturdays in 2021: March 13, 20 and 27 from 1-3:30 pm.

March 13: Navigation
March 20: The Coastal Environment
March 27: Planning a Trip

In the week preceding the first session, a package of information including a Zoom meeting link will be sent to registrants via private email.


3/13  - Part 1: Navigation

  • Essentials of map and compass use:

    • Scale and distance

    • The coordinate grid

    • Magnetic variation

    • True and magnetic bearings on the map and in the world

  • Reading and interpreting nautical charts

    • Depth

    • Buoyage and Channels

    • Coastal topography

    • Suitability for landing and launching

  • Parsing the visual environment

  • Sources for nautical charts


3/20 - Part 2: The Coastal Environment

  • Understanding and predicting weather and sea conditions

  • Understanding and predicting tides: water level, volume, currents

  • Interactions between weather, tides and geography:

    • Weather and geography

    • Tides and geography

    • Weather and tides

  • Online information resources


3/27 - Part 3: Planning

  • Balancing the environment, the group’s desires and the group’s capabilities

  • Determining an ability level for the trip

  • Estimating duration and effort

  • Anticipating and adjusting for tides, weather and visibility

  • Handrails, crossings

  • Shipping and boating

  • Identifying and using ranges

  • Places to rest, eat, refresh

  • Anticipating decision points and escape options on the water

  • Documenting the planned route


Appendix: Logistics

  • Parking and access

  • Organizing an NSPN club trip



This workshop is not a full-blown Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning course, nor does it substitute for trip leader training. Some materials are specific to areas frequently paddled by the club. All NSPN members are encouraged to develop their skills through professional instruction from accredited sources.



  • A color printer or other way to print the maps

  • A handheld plastic compass (preferably with string attached)

  • Pencils

  • Paper or other note-taking device



You'll get acquainted with other NSPN members at approximately your own level, who can become paddling partners!

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