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HomeTrip Planning

Here's How We Roll

NSSKA trip leaders take care to plan safe, enjoyable outings. Here’s what goes into planning a trip:
  • Club member suggests a trip to our trip coordinator
  • Trip coordinator finds a qualified member to lead the trip
  • At least one person from the NSSKA Board approves the trip
  • Trip gets posted to our events calendar
Our trip leaders provide enough information for you to decide whether the outing suits your abilities. This includes a trip rating, which consists of a number representing the expected conditions and a letter representing the human effort required. Trips rated as I-A are great for new paddlers. Scroll down for a description of trip ratings.

It is the paddler’s responsibility to come prepared to enjoy a trip. The club empowers all trip leaders to decide who is capable of participating based on a member's skills and equipment. We are sticklers about using immersion gear when paddling cold waters, and on many trips we require dry suits and/or neoprene wet suits.

Bill pre-trip talk

Trip Ratings


I - Protected waters, possibly a light breeze, little or no current, easy landings. You must be able to wet-exit safely from a capsized kayak.

II - Possible chop with wind waves of up to 2 feet, current to 1-2 knots, easy to moderate landings. You must have experience with wet exits, assisted rescues, and bracing.

III - Possible swells and eddy lines, moderate to strong winds, moderate to difficult landings, current up to 4 knots. You must have dependable skills in assisted rescues, self-rescues, and bracing.

IV - Some exposed water, possible open-water crossings, moderate to strong currents, swells, moderate to strong sustained winds, moderate to difficult landings, possible surf. You must be able to brace automatically, to self-rescue confidently, and (preferably) to roll. You must be able to navigate using a chart and compass.

V -  Possible long crossings, rugged and/or exposed coast, large swells, surf, strong currents, turbulent water, difficult landings and/or strong wind effects. You must have advanced paddling, seamanship, and rescue skills, and be able to roll dependably.


A - Up to three hours and/or 6 nautical miles, with plenty of sheltered landing spots for resting.

B - Up to 5 hours and/or 10 nautical miles, with some sheltered landing spots for resting.

C - Up to 6 hours and/or 15 nautical miles with infrequent shelter or landing spots.

D - More than 6 hours and/or more than 15 nautical miles, with little or no shelter and very few landing spots.

Gear & Supplies

Paddlers are required bring the following items on any day trip:

  • Food and beverage/water
  • Personal flotation device (PFD) equipped with whistle
  • Sea kayak with flotation fore and aft (either bulkheads or float bags)
  • Spray skirt
  • Bilge pump and paddle float
  • Personal first aid kit that includes any medications for specific needs
  • Sun and rain protection (hat, sun glasses, sunscreen)
  • Dry bag with rain jacket or cagoule, and change of clothes
  • VHF radio if possible

In addition to the above, trip leaders are required to bring:

  • VHF radio
  • Compass and chart of the route
  • Emergency blanket
  • Repair kit
  • Short tow and long tow
  • Spare paddle

For overnight trips, the trip leader will provide a gear/supply checklist based on destination and duration.

Comfy in the rain