Rough Water Paddling


Rough water paddling is a fun and exciting way to develop your paddling skills. Rough water can be caused by wind and/or tidal currents. Tidal currents occur in many locations and present an opportunity to practise rough water paddling. For paddlers with the right strokes, tidal currents provide an interesting and fun location to ‘play.’ At the same time, ‘playing’ in tidal currents greatly improves your paddling skills and provides you with improved confidence the next time you encounter moving water on your kayaking trips. In this clinic, you’ll learn how to use ferry glides to effortlessly cross current without ‘losing ground,’ and you’ll practice ‘peeling out’ to join current—one of the most enjoyable skills to perform in a sea kayak! With these skills in hand, you’ll have lots of opportunity to ‘play’ on current-formed waves!


Our safety-conscious instructors are among the most highly trained and versatile on the coast. They will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience. Coastal areas such as Vancouver Island have a great deal of strong currents that could be dangerous to paddlers without the right strokes and skills. In this clinic, you’ll learn to handle currents with confidence!

Specifically, you’ll learn the following:

  • How to identify current, eddies, and eddy lines
  • Techniques for paddling upstream and downstream in current
  • Techniques for joining current (‘peeling out’)
  • Techniques for exiting current (‘eddying out’)
  • How to ferry glide across currents

Full Itinerary – Itinerary for Rough Water Paddling

Equipment List

Please read the following equipment list below carefully, as it indicates what you will need to bring with you on the program. Ocean River Sports stocks many of the items listed. If you need advice or would like to purchase gear, please visit us or check out our online store!

Cotton keeps you cold when it’s wet, and takes a long time to dry. If possible, bring clothing designed for outdoor wear and made from Merino (wool), silk, or synthetic materials, such as polyester, polypropylene, or nylon.

*indicates optional item.

Navigation Equipment:

  • 2 pens for writing notes.
  • Notebook for taking general notes
  • Waterproof case for notes, such as a chart case or large Ziplock™ bag; alternately, use a waterproof notebook/logbook, such as those made by Write-In-the-Rain™).

Personal Gear:

  • If you wear glasses, an extra pair and a retainer strap; if you wear contacts, an extra pair
  • Sunglasses. Include a strap to secure them.
  • Sunscreen: waterproof, sweat-proof, SPF 30 or higher.
  • Lip sunblock.
  • *Waterproof or disposable camera.
  • *Moist towelettes for a quick, waterless cleanup.
  • *Extra car keys in case you lose yours.


  • Neoprene ‘Scull Cap’ or thin wool toque (to keep your head warm when wet).
  • Long-sleeved, non-cotton shirt or long underwear top to protect from the sun.
  • Warm fleece pullover or Merino (wool) sweater to keep you warm in cooler weather.
  • Hat for sun, rain, or warmth, depending on the weather. A broad-brimmed hat works best.
  • For your hands, you may wish to wear cycling-type gloves to help prevent blistering. These should be snug-fitting, as loose-filling gloves may actually cause blistering. To keep your hands warm in cooler weather, you may wish to wear wool gloves inside dishwashing gloves, or buy neoprene gloves or pogies (a special paddling mitt).
  • Extra gloves (wool or fleece) to wear at lunch or after paddling.
  • Windbreaker (e.g., nylon jacket that can shed the wind).
  • Rain jacket (with a hood, if you don’t have a broad-brimmed rain hat). Gore-tex™ or other breathable material works well.
  • A change of warm clothes placed in a marine dry bag or small duffle bag. (waterproofed in large Ziplock™ bags or garbage bags to ensure you have dry clothes to change into after paddling).
  • Footwear for wearing while paddling (that can get wet); e.g., sport sandals (with heal strap), running shoes, wetsuit booties, or reef shoes with good soles.
  • A change of footwear for wearing before and after paddling, such as a trail running shoe, light hiking shoe, or rubber boots. Waterproof footwear is preferable.

 Food and Water:

  • Water bottle (filled): large enough to hold about 1 liter or 1 quart of water so you can keep yourself well-hydrated.
  • Lunch
  • Snack(s).
  • *Thermos with a warm drink.
  • Biodegradable soap to wash.
  • *Hand sanitizer

 Kayak and Paddling Gear

You will need a sea kayak and paddling gear for your program. You can either rent these from us for an additional fee, or you can provide your own sea kayak and paddling gear if you already own or have access to these.

If you are renting a sea kayak and paddling gear from Ocean River Sports (or if a sea kayak and paddling gear are included in the price of your program), you will be provided with the following items as one complete package:

  • Sea kayak.
  • Paddle.
  • Sprayskirt.
  • PFD (Personal Flotation Device): Canadian Coast Guard approved.
  • Whistle.
  • Hand pump.
  • Throw-line (buoyant heaving line at least 15 meters in length).
  • Paddle float.
  • *Spare paddle (optional)
  • *Sponge (optional): for drying out hatches

If you are providing your own kayak and paddling gear for your program, you must provide the paddling gear listed above, and your sea kayak must meet the following requirements**: (1) is suitable for open sea conditions; (2) has positive buoyancy when capsized; (3) is able to adequately carry gear as required for the program; and (4) has perimeter lines. Please note: recreational kayaks that do not meet the above requirements are not suitable for our programs. If you have questions about the suitability of your kayak, please contact us. If your program takes place in an indoor pool, please ensure your kayak and gear are clean of dirt, sand, and debris.

**Exceptions: (1) whitewater kayaks are permitted on our Rolling clinic; and (2) surf skis or Olympic style kayaks with bulkheads or flotation bags are permitted on our Perfect Your Forward Stroke clinic.

Ocean River Sports provides the following paddling equipment and supplies for your program:

  • First aid equipment.
  • VHF Marine Radio.
  • Signaling flares.
  • Shared charts of the paddling areas.
  • Tide and Current Tables Volume 5: Juan de Fuca Strait & Strait of Georgia.
  • Helmets (which we will wear when kayaking in rough water near shorelines). If you like, you may wish to provide your own kayaking helmet.
  • Wetsuit.
  • Paddling jacket.
  • *If you like, you may wish to provide your own wetsuit and paddling jacket or drysuit. If you are providing your own, please ensure that it is comfortable for paddling for extended periods and will keep you warm during immersion.
Waiver/Medical Forms

Please review the following form prior to your program. Please sign/initial the form in the presence of your instructor/guide, who will act as your witness.

Ocean River Sports Waiver (PDF)


To read all of our reviews, click on the Trip Advisor logo below! TA_550x370

Loved that there was not a ton of pressure, but enough challenge for the Tidal Currents course – wanted to stretch myself but did not want to be alarmed about what I was attempting to learn. The instructor was very knowledgeable and clearly adapted the course to the needs and comfort levels of the students. The location chosen offered a safe environment in which I could feel reasonably confident trying to take on currents.

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We're located in Downtown Victoria, Oak Bay, and Saturna Island.
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