Sea Kayak Lessons 101 and 102 Info Packet

Thank you for registering for lessons with Potomac Paddlesports! We are patient professionals who are highly experienced at teaching beginners how to kayak. This packet of information is provided to help keep you organized and ensure that you are fully prepared for your lessons. Please review all of this information carefully at least one week prior to your lesson. You may contact us at any time with questions by calling 301-881-2628 or by emailing us at We look forward to paddling with you!


This packet contains the following:

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about preparedness and scheduling:

  1. You have up to two years from your first lesson to complete any membership package - please practice with us or on your own between lessons to qualify for the next lesson.
  2. Please schedule or re-schedule your lessons and practice online - and check your wait list status regularly - we recommend checking on Monday and Thursday before lessons, and two hours prior to a practice. You may not be notified when you are automatically moved off the wait list close to the lesson or practice date. The roster generally solidifies the week of the lesson or day of practice and we make final adjustments to capacity at that time.
  3. You have up until 72 hours before your class starts to reschedule yourself online. Students who do not reschedule themselves online in time or who don't show up forfeit their lesson. No exceptions are made to this policy and we do not offer refunds. The cutoff for practice is one hour.
  5. Personal floatation device, paddle, spray skirt,and kayak less than 18 months old are provided at lessons and practice at no additional charge (a $20+/hour value). Please help us keep the equipment clean and in good working condition. If you are bringing your own, please update your Personal info on your schedule page and email us at
  6. Please arrive and be prepared fifteen minutes prior to your lesson or practice start time. (Late arrivals will not be admitted to class or practice and will forfeit their lesson.)
  7. All lessons meet and are held rain or shine. A decision to postpone due to lightning or other dangerous conditions is made on-site at the last possible minute. (Mother Nature often cooperates if we wait-and-see.)
  8. Students who are no shows for practice will forfeit future practices.
  9. You'll spend a significant portion of your lessons and practice in the water and some kayaking-specific apparel is required for your safety and comfort - PLEASE BE FULLY PREPARED AND DRESS ACCORDINGLY. Scroll down for a discount and free 2-day shipping on specific products and email or call 301-881-2628 Ext 1 if you have questions about sizing and whether or not items you already own will work. We don't want you to buy anything unnecessarily, or buy items that look similar but won't work.
  10. Please do not wait until the last minute to purchase your clothing and accessories - try to order from us no later than the Monday or Tuesday prior to your lesson - size carefully - and bring everything so you can be prepared if conditions change.
  11. During your lesson, store your car key in a "Hide-a-Key" box somewhere on your vehicle and keep all personal items out of sight (backpacks, laptops, etc.) in your locked vehicle.
  12. Package students may attend free practice clinics indefinitely, providing you have your own kayak after your fourth lesson.
  13. You may repeat any lesson at a discounted rate of 15% - repeating the 102 is a good idea. Please call 301-881-2828 to do so.
  14. For your safety and enjoyment, we request that you keep your personal information up-to-date on your schedule page using the link at the top right that says "Personal info"
  16. Stretch regularly or do yoga.
  17. We are a very small business with a conservation mission, trying to help grow a small industry. If you have a 5 star experience, please help us by leaving a review on our Google Business Page and our Yelp Business Page and also reply to our feedback request or survey emails. If you have anything less than a 5 star experience, call us at 301-881-2628 to discuss your experience, and so that we may have the opportunity to improve or resolve a situation. Thank you!

List of Things to Bring

The following list of things to bring are mandatory for your comfort, safety, and enjoyment of your on-water (and in-water) experience with us. NOTE: We intend to keep you dry during the 101 lesson, so you can "get away with" dressing as you would for a rainy hike or football game. However, starting with the 102 lesson, you will be wet and practice safety skills routinely, so you will want all of the items on this list. Past students have provided feedback that we "should have been more emphatic" about the need to bring these specific items, even though we were. Click on the name of the item in the list or the "View Product" button to learn more. Get special pricing using the code "STUDENT" at checkout plus a free gear bag for orders over $200 and free 2-day shipping for orders over $100. PLEASE DRESS ACCORDINGLY - email or call 301-881-2628 Ext 1 if you have questions about sizing and whether or not items you already own will work. (Our Potomac, MD store is now closed, so just order from us online.)

Use code "STUDENT" for special pricing at checkout - free gear bag and 2-day shipping!

    April–June and September, or when temps are below 90 degrees:
  • Beginner kayaker's semi-dry top (This specific product and the kayakers nose plugs are the most critical items to have most of the season):

  • Kayaking base layer top (You may already have something comparable):

  • Warmer kayaking base layer top (If you get cold easy and in place of the base layer above):

  • Neoprene Kayaker's Hood (Vital for cold or rainy lessons and packable warmth for when conditions deteriorate):

  • Warm base layer bottoms (can be worn under surf trunks - you may already have something comparable):

  • July–August, or when temps are above 90 degrees:
  • Kayaking base layer top (Same as above, for sun protection and to act as a rash guard)
  • Kayaker's surf shorts (You may already have something comparable)

  • Year-Round:
  • Ear Plugs (To help prevent ear infections)
  • One liter of water
  • Waterproof snack (Clif Bar, etc.)
  • Allergy medication (We require medications for all severe reactions such as bee stings, peanuts, asthma, etc.)
  • Sunglasses with strap or SeaSpecs
  • Sunscreen
  • Towel and change of clothes
  • Q-tips (optional)
  • Ear wash (optional)
  • Glasses or Contact Wearers:
  • Eyeglass strap (So you don't lose your expensive prescription lenses)
  • Note to those who wear contacts: Bring extra. You will need to close your eyes while underwater. (Swim goggles don't work that well. A well fitting dive mask is ok while learning to roll.)
  • Tote bag for all of the above Our gift to you with any gear purchase of $200 or more! (And great job reading down this far on the list!)
  • Safety Lesson (102) Only:
  • Paddle float
  • Bilge pump
  • Rescue Step
  • Rescue Knife
  • Tow System
  • Glasses or Contact Wearers:
  • Eyeglass strap (So you don't lose your expensive prescription lenses)
  • Note to those who wear contacts: Bring extra. You will need to close your eyes while underwater.

Directions to Lesson Location

Directions to Riley’s Lock in Poolesville, MD.
From I-495
  1. Take exit 39 for River Rd/Rt-190 west toward Potomac
  2. Merge onto MD-190/River Rd
  3. After 11.5 miles, you will come to a dead end.
  4. Turn left onto River Rd
  5. After 0.7 miles, turn left onto Rileys Lock Rd.
  6. Proceed to a boat ramp on your right and parking area on your left. You will see a kayak trailer and a Potomac Paddlesports instructor in the parking lot on your left.

PLEASE have your clothing and supplies ready to go fifteen minutes prior to start time so that we can start promptly.

Note: Vehicles have been broken into at this parking lot. Please leave all valuables at home and bring a small drybox for your credit cards and cash. You can store your car key in a hidden key box on the underside of your fender.