The Shearwater University Kayaking School provides skill development to make this beautiful activity safe and enjoyable for people who love being close to nature on the Salish Sea. 

Class Offerings

Kayaking Essentials

This four day sea kayaking immersion class will launch a lifetime of safe and inspiring kayaking adventures.  We will cover everything you need to get you started exploring the Salish Sea.  Taught by a master mariner,  American Canoe Association Certified Instructor, and professional educator, the course includes all the skills and content for ACA Coastal Kayaking Level 1 through Level 3.


  • Your 14 foot or larger sea kayak, or rent one of ours. 
  • Dry suit or wetsuit

  • Personal preparation for paddling
  • Kayaks & gear
  • The paddling environment & hazard mitigation
  • Getting in & out without getting soaked 
  • Paddle stokes & maneuvering skills
  • Bracing  (3 types)
  • Wet exit
  • Group Rescues - different techniques for different situations
  • Self Rescues
  • Paddling judgment
  • Trip Planning
  • Tides & currents
  • Weather
  • Charts & compass
  • Safety preparedness & emergency management
  • Signaling and safety devices

Schedule:  9 - 5 for 4 days; combination of shore school and on-water skill development.

Contact Us to Schedule a Custom Class
Group Size up to 8 Individuals

One-Day Skills Clinics

In & Out, Paddle About

An Introduction to Safe Kayaking

A seven-hour class for those who want a basic introduction to paddling and safety.  Prepares you to kayak in calm, nearshore waters, to enjoy the simple beauty of the water and shoreline.

Prerequisites: None

  • For this class you can bring any type of kayak - learn to be safe in your boat
  • Rentals also available

Skills Covered:

  • Getting in and out of a kayak at the beach without getting soaked
  • Your first assisted rescue: How to get out and back into your kayak in deep water if it tips over
  • Basic paddle strokes for getting around and maneuvering effectively
  • Essential gear to keep you safe
  • Balance and bracing to keep you right side up


  • None currently scheduled
  • Recommended alternative: Kayaking Essentials


Bowman Bay in Deception Pass State Park - at the edge of paddling paradise.


Oops! Bracing & Rescues 

Capsize Prevention & Recovery

This is the most important skill set to learn after being introduced to kayaking, and before venturing away from the shore.  This six-hour class will cover the knowledge and skills to keep you safe while paddling.

Prerequisites: Beginning level kayaking experience.  In & Out, Paddle About fulfills this requirement, or any prior experience such that you can do basic paddling and maneuvering of a kayak.

Venue:  Bowman Bay

Skills Covered:

  • Sea kayaking safety & rescue gear
  • High and low bracing techniques to keep you upright
  • Wet exit practice for the times that you don’t
  • Assisted rescue methods for helping a companion back in their boat - multiple scenarios & stratigies
  • Self-rescue methods for getting back in by yourself


  • None currently scheduled
  • Recommended alternative: Kayaking Essentials

Sea Kayaking Trip Planning

You’ve been paddling with others, but would like to plan and lead some trips of your own. This eight hour course covers the ingredients for safe and enjoyable kayaking excursions.

  • Prerequisites:  
  • You have participated in a number of day paddles led by others, and possibly even over night kayaking trips.  
  • You have good paddling and maneuvering skills.
  • You have a solid self-rescue and skills to assist another kayaker back into their boat.


  • Choose your class from the registration drop down menu below.
  • 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Optional group paddle the next day (weather permitting)

Location:  Seafarers' Memorial Park Building, Anacortes.

Skills Covered:

  • Using charts to plan a safe route for the skills of the group; interpreting chart symbols accurately and tracking your location
  • Reading tide and current tables; planning your trip to accommodate them
  • Finding and interpreting the marine weather forecast for your paddling area
  • The importance of judgment
  • Safety planning and emergency management
  • Communication while paddling and safety protocols
  • Identifying hazards on a route and planning to avoid or mitigate them
  • Apply your skills to planning a kayaking trip for the next day.

Custom Kayaking Instruction

For small groups and individuals.  Choose your learning goals, your location, your pace.  Let's get creative and make the on-water learning experience of your dreams.

Contact us to start the planning process!


Phyllis Woolwine has been paddling the Salish Sea and the Inside Passage for over 35 years. An American Canoe Association Certified Coastal Kayaking Instructor, she has planned, navigated, and led extended sea kayaking expeditions in these Northwest waters since the late 80s. As much as paddling is in her bones, education is in her heart and mind. Phyllis has been a professional teacher and teacher educator for her entire adult life. Connecting with students, their individual learning styles, and helping them reach their personal goals, is her passion and life's mission.