Kayak Resources

WELCOME to kayaking with NBBC. We hope you enjoy your experience as well as learn a few skills, appreciate our natural environment and make new friends.

NBBC trips list three kayak skill levels: beginners, intermediates & advanced. These are to keep you safe and guide you to a paddle that you’ll find fun & enjoyable.

For the level trip you sign up for, be prepared to demonstrate any or all of the skills listed to the upon request. These are guidelines only and participation is at the discretion of each trip leader and what they feel is safe for the group, individual and on water conditions.


Why trips might get cancelled.
What should I wear & bring for a kayak trip?
How to become a Volunteer Trip Assistant.
How to become a Volunteer Trip Leader.
What skills do I need to join a beginner trip?
What skills do I need to join an intermediate trip?
What skills do I need to join an advanced trip?
Do you offer boat storage?
Places to get training
Going Winter Paddling.
Dry Suit Storage Policy.
Currents vs. Tides.
Who is the Kayak Steering Committee and how can I email them?
ACA Reimbursement after volunteering as a Trip Leader or Instructor

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Unsafe conditions such as Lightning, High Winds or CSO (raw sewage release) will cancel a trip.

Learn about CSO

Marine Forecast & Conditions

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It all depends on the water & air temperatures. Dress for getting wet.  Kayaks are low to the water and some or all of you will get wet. Wear quick dry clothes.  NO COTTON as it  gets heavy when wet and will make you chilly in cooler air temps.  An online guide. We don’t recommend leather jackets either, as they are heavy.

NOTE: once you are in the kayak wearing your life jacket you will be unable to take jackets on or off.

  • Wear old sneakers, sport sandals – wool socks if cooler
  • A waterproof paddle top or rain jacket
  • Waterproof pants or paddle pants
  • In cooler temps wear wet suits or dry suits
  • Sunglasses & a sun hat or wool hat
  • Snack & water
  • Sunscreen
  • Waterproof camera & binoculars
  • Waterproof case for your phone (or leave it on land)


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No previous kayak experience. We suggest you know how to swim, although you are required to wear a life jacket for all on water events.

Beginners will start out on Sit on Top Kayaks and use decked kayaks at the discretion of the trip leader

Suggest beginners look at Intermediate skills list to see what to practice or learn

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INTERMEDIATE PADDLERS can demonstrate the following on land & on water:

prepare their kayak without any or with very minimal help, including

  • Foot peg,
  • Spray skirt
  • PFD
  • Choose proper paddle.
  • Know what a wet exit is, demonstrate on land
  • How is a skeg or rudder used
  • Forward Stroke
  • Backward Stroke
  • Turns
  • Stop
  • Paddle at a moderate pace for at least 60 minutes without a break

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ADVANCED PADDLERS can demonstrate and/or have experience in above as well as the following:

  • Enter & Exit kayak unassisted
  • Draw Strokes
  • Ruddering Strokes
  • Self Rescue
  • Marine Radio Use
  • Read Current tables
  • Weather Knowledge (including lightning procedure, wind, CSO)
  • Basic Nautical Rules of the Road
  • Paddle at a moderate pace four hours or more
  • Beach or rocky shoreline landing & launch
  • Understand how to prevent hypo and hyperthermia

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Since NBBC has very limited storage, all kayaks are currently shared use only. No boats for private use only. Please contact us at nbbckayak@gmail.com for more info or if you would like to donate your sea kayak or gear. Donated boats need to be fully functional, safe and appropriate for beginner paddlers.

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Trip Assisting a is a great way to give back to the community. Without your help we won’t be able to give as many people the amazing experience of kayaking on one of the most unique waterways in the world.

We recommend all assistants be assessed at ACA Level 2 or at least receive some rescue training. Visit training page to find instructors.

Please attend a trip assistant workshop after which there will be time to demo your skills or a special time may be arranged with the workshop instructor.

NOTE: All applicants for trip assistant subject to final approval by Kayak Committee

These are the minimum skills we ask Trip Assistants have:

  • Clear Communication skills with leader and participants
  • Aware of your surrounding, whether it be water , weather or people.
  • Positive and pleasant demeanor
  • Punctuality, Proper care of equipment
  • Prepare self & gear
  • Put boat in & take out of water unassisted
  • Get in and out of boat unassisted
  • Know forward stroke, backward stroke, stop and turns
  • Marine radio use (channels for traffic, emergency & general chatter, security call & respond to commercial vessels)
  • How to help if there is a capsize or other emergency
  • Towing (both a contact tow (grabbing bow) and in line tow)
  • Lead & sweep, gather & stop signals
  • Basic local knowledge (shipping lanes, ferry stops, landmarks, eddies/resting spots, rules of the road)
  • Weather & other pertinent conditions


Trip Prep

  • Know the predicted weather conditions, esp wind speed & chance of lightning or water temp
  • What is the float plan
  • Prepare yourself, your gear & boat

Prepare your gear and boat BEFORE participants arrive.  Punctuality is a key element of leading and assisting, both as a courtesy to others as well as critical to the currents.
Being able to assist people with getting themselves ready will speed up
departure, make the trip safer and give everyone a better experience.

  • Waivers: recommend doing this before all else
  • Assign boats according to skill level
  • Guide them to an appropriate pfd & paddle
  • Check boat and gear
  • Brief intro talk, welcome, who is the NBBC, volunteers, synopsis of trip, including that return time is an estimate, what if capsize


  • Leader, Assistant or participant skilled in rescue*  in water before group gets in boat
  • Person on the dock to assist getting in boats
  • Person on dock for lowering boats and final prep
  • Recommend people on dock should be wearing pfds, even if not paddling.

The person(s) in the water should keep paddlers along the seawall, ask them to practice basic strokes, watch for traffic.

During Trip

  • Trip Leader and Main assistant both have radios and agree on a channel
  • A radio security call is always given when a group enters the East River
    (ie: 8 kayakers, mouth of Newtown Creek, headed West on East River to
    Red Hook)
  • Most commonly there will be a lead paddler & sweep
  • Keep group within speaking distance as well as within eyesight.
  • When lead stop to gather, sweep makes sure stragglers go up to join group.
  • No one strays into shipping lanes or in common ferry “lanes”
  • Adjust speed & number of breaks to group’s abilities

Upon Return

  • Someone able to rescue is last out
  • Wash boats & gear, ( can do a washing statin, few people sponge, some put gear away, etc)
  • Check hatches, if dry keep closed, if wet put cover inside
  • Boats need to go in specific locations to fit, also some paddlers are shorter, so they need boats lower down.
  • Lock containers & gate.

* At the minimum ask them to hold onto their boat, the dock or your boat until someone else can help.

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We consider our Trip Leaders and all our volunteers as ambassadors to the membership and the public. We also value sharing knowledge and education. Therefore, aside from the paddle skills you’ll learn through ACA  trip leader training, we take the time & effort to provide additional training. Local currents, marine radio use, how our storage and maintenance facilities function, local trip planning,  are amongst the additional skills you will learn.


  1. Fill out application
  2. ACA  Coastal Day trip leading Certification. View PDF of details.
  3. Pass NBBC Local Knowledge test
  4. Provide dates & Trip Leader names of 5 trips you assisted on
  5. Minimum of 3 Co-led trips – successfully completes (see details below) and a Maximum of 5 co-led trip
  6. Approval of the Kayak Committee by majority vote

Co-led means a NBBC trip leader oversee & supervises a Trip Leader In Training as they:

  • Create float plan, post on the calendar
  • Evaluate potential paddler’s skill level for trip participation
  • The trip must run with at least 1 trip assistant & 3 participants
  • Execute the trip (setup, trip & clean up) without the need of the trip leader to intercede unless there are extreme conditions or an emergency

Demonstrate leadership skills such as, but not exclusive:

  • Clear Communication
  • Delegates appropriately
  • Character & demeanor
  • Displays expertise in kayaking
  • Motivates & inspires the group
  • Ability to teach skills
  • Encourages others
  • Create a positive atmosphere

NOTE: All applicants for trip leader subject to final approval by Kayak Committee

Please contact the Kayak Committee with any questions. nbbckayak@gmail.com

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Training in the area:

The best way is to first check the boat club website and even if you don’t see anything to email or call (these are in no specific order:











(some are BCU or offer both, be sure to explain which you’d like )

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Cold weather paddling is when water and air temperatures combined are less than 120 degrees or the water is less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

When kayaking in winter conditions:

  • A wet suit is a must, and a dry suit is highly recommended.
  • Trip leaders and all participants must be trained in winter paddling and dry-suit use (via NBBC workshops or approved paddles)

A trip leader or OP who is assessed for Winter paddling with NBBC can go out and also take *others out. The *other paddler is at the discretion of the TP or OP (as in the summer) and must abide by NBBC winter paddling guidelines and follow all other NBBC regs & rules and have “Winter Paddler” skills. See below.

To borrow a NBBC dry suit the person must be a member in good standing as well as be assessed for winter paddling by NBBC.

1. Kayak Skills for Winter Paddlers:Unassisted you must be able to set up boat & gear, get in & out of kayak, know all basic paddle strokes, paddle for at least 2 hours without a break at a moderate to fast pace.

2. AND demonstrate how to properly put on ad take off a dry suit, know how to care for it (report broken gaskets, wear footwear over the “socks”, etc.

3. AND answer questions about hypothermia risks, prevention and first aid.

As of this writing (11-14-15) winter assessors are Dewey, Klaus R, Vincent, Tania & Monica.

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We have limited storage space, this is similar to our general storage policy

You are welcome to store your dry suit at the boatyard if you are OK with others using it. Please only store these in container 2.

If you prefer to NOT share your dry suit, please take it home with you,

To be clear – ALL dry suits, dry pants, neoprene booties, wool hats, sweaters, etc , stored at the boatyard are available for others to use. So if you prefer no one else use your stuff, do not store, leave or keep it at the boatyard.

If you do store & share your personal dry suit, etc – NBBC assumes no responsibility for damage, loss or repair.

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  • Tide predictions provide the times and heights of the tides.
  • Tidal current predictions provide the times and speed and direction of maximum current and times of slack water.

It is up to the user to insure that they are using the correct type of predictions for their activities.

What is the difference between TIDES and CURRENTS?

Tides go up and down…vertical if you will..currents move side to side…horizontal

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On May 1, 2017, the Kayak Steering Committee consists of Zoe Sheehan-Saldana, Tania Van Bergn & Vincent Bonomi. Contact us.

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At its discretion, NBBC may reimburse course fees (not travel, lodging or other incidental expenses) for ACA Kayak Trip Leader and L2+ Kayak Instructor certification for members who apply their certified skills to club programs as described below:

  • Kayak Trip Leaders may apply for course fee reimbursement after leading 5 NBBC trips as a volunteer.
  • Kayak L2+ Instructors may apply for course fee reimbursement after teaching 2 ACA L2+ NBBC certification courses as a volunteer.

Please let the Kayak committee know when you are planning to take a reimbursable course to confirm that, in fact, the club is in a position to reimburse for that certification. You are responsible for keeping a record of your volunteer fulfillment. When you have delivered the minimum programs, e-mail a list of the courses/trips you led and a PDF copy of your course fee receipt to the Kayak Committee.