Trip Descriptions

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Lakes, sheltered rivers, protected harbors, tidal estuaries with minimal or no current, etc. May involve limited exposure to open ocean with access to sheltered water or landing near at hand (less than .5 nautical mile). Coastal or tidal paddling, potentially up to 1.5 nautical miles from landing. May involve significant exposure to open ocean with limited access to landings (two nautical miles).

Maximum Conditions

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Wind Some 10 knots 15 knots 20 knots
Waves/Chop Minimal 1  foot 2 feet 4 feet
Surf Minimal 1 foot 2 feet 4 feet
Current Minimal 1 knot 2 knots 4 knots
Distance 2 miles 10 miles 15 miles 20+ miles


Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Paddle None Forward, reverse, sweep Level 2 skills.
Correcting and boat handling strokes.
Solid bracing.
Level 3 skills.
Strong bracing skills. Surf skills.
Tidal current skills.
Rescue None Wet exit Wet exit, paddle float self rescue, partner rescue Level 3 skills
Rescues and tows.
Reliable roll or very strong bracing.
Pace None None 2-3 knots 4 knots
Other None None Basic trip safety
Basic navigation
Trip planning Environmental conditions
Charts, navigation, VHF, environmental conditions, trip planning and emergency   procedures
Desirable   Experience None Basic class in kayak safety and paddle strokes Level 2 trips or equivalent.
Class in rescues and tows
Level 3 trips or equivalent.
Level 3 classes.
Classes in trip planning, safety, and navigation.