Looking to Connect with Other Paddlers in Southern Maine? Here are Some Tips
There are lots of people out there looking for paddle buddies. We hear from them all the time at Portland Paddle: the couple with lots of lake paddling experience that just moved to the Maine coast; the rookie paddler who just discovered sea kayaking or SUP and can’t wait to share their newfound passion; the longtime whitewater kayaker who just realized that coastal waters can be just as much fun to paddle as rivers.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways for folks like these to connect with the paddling community.
Here are 10 suggestions:
Check out the Southern Maine Sea Kayak Network — This friendly and welcoming paddling club organizes all kinds of trips, workshops and other paddling-focused events for paddlers of all skill levels. They use meetup.com as a platform to connect, as do several other organizations mentioned in this list.
Join the Maine Island Trail Association — The Maine coast is home to the nation’s first coastal island trail, and it’s a huge part of what makes paddling Maine’s coastal waters so unique and exciting. The organization behind the trail, known as MITA, provides lots of resources and events for its members. They even have their own group on Meetup.com that organizes lots of paddling trips and cleanups of the islands. Every paddler on Maine’s coast should consider joining MITA — and should also study its invaluable guidebook.
Take a class from a local outfitter — This is where Portland Paddle enters the picture! We offer a range of sea kayaking & SUP classes for paddlers of all skill levels — including Intro to Sea Kayak, Intro to SUP, Surf Clinics, Sea Kayak Navigation Workshops. But there are lots of other paddling companies in the region that also offer great instruction, including Maine Island Kayak Company, Pinniped Kayak and Castine Kayak. For a complete list of outfitters visit maskgi.org.
Visit Nanuq Kayaks in the Old Port — Head to the very end of the Maine Wharf to see some of the most gorgeous kayaks in the world and chat with Harley, proprietor of this fairly new kayak shop. Even if you can’t afford the high-end kayaks, they’re fun to look at and Harley is always happy to talk paddling.
Check out other outdoor adventure clubs — There are other clubs that organize all sorts of outdoor adventures, and many of those events are paddling-focused. Consider joining the Maine Outdoor Adventure Club, the Ladies Adventure Club, or the Fit Maine Social Club . Each of these groups will connect you with other folks who love paddling.
Show up for Portland Paddle’s free weekly skill sessions — Every Tuesday evening from 5:30 to 7:00 Portland Paddle hosts a gathering of sea kayakers (SUPs are welcome too!) who are interested in practicing and learning paddling skills. We provide an instructor who is there to offer free coaching and support. The main purpose of the event is to connect local paddlers with each other, and with skilled instructors.
Read Fit Maine — This awesome website, which is focused on finding fun. active things to do in Maine, has some great tips on where to paddle and information about upcoming paddling events. Fit Maine’s tagline really captures the site’s spirit: “Maine is My Gym.” Fit Maine also recently launched it’s own social club, mentioned above.
Check out the AMC’s paddling events — the Maine branch of the Appalachian Mountain Club organizes events for its members and occasionally there are some great paddling events in the mix. Try scrolling their calendar to see if anything is coming up.
9. Read Atlantic Coastal Kayaker — Sure, the website design is a couple decades behind the times, but the content of this small publication stays fresh and always relevant to New England paddlers. The print edition recently ended it’s long run, but you can still find the latest issues online if you pay the very modest subscription fee.
10. Take an ACA course. There are lots of American Canoe Association-certified instructors in Maine offering all sorts of classes and workshops for all skill levels — including those who aspire to become instructors. The ACA is the nation’s main paddlesports organization, and when you take a course from an ACA-certified instructor you know you are learning from someone who has undergone substantial instructor training (how much training depends on their specific level, on a 1 to 5 scale) These courses are also a great way to meet other people who are serious about paddling. All of Portland Paddle’s classes are taught by ACA-certified instructors, and we offer an ACA Instructor Certification course in June.
Also, don’t forget to just go paddling! — The more time you spend on the water the more likely you are to cross paths with other paddlers. Get out there and explore! That said, paddling solo comes with significantly heightened risks, so be cautious if that’s you’re only option. For ideas of where to paddle visit our “Casco Bay Trip Ideas,” webpage.