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Public Boating Courses

A Paddler's Guide to Safety (PGS) Course DescriptionBACK TO CLASSES

Course Overview

A Paddler’s Guide to Safety has been prepared by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in cooperation with the American Canoe Association. It is designed as a stand-alone course that can precede or supplement on-the-water experience.

The objective for this course is for novice paddlers to be aware of the basic issues and needs for paddling safety, the basic equipment they should have, and to provide some info about paddling that will help them be a more knowledgeable and safer paddler.


The course reinforces three important touchstones with regards to paddle sports:

  • The need to have and wear a proper life jacket.
  • The need to be prepared and have proper safety equipment.
  • The need for general awareness about all aspects of paddling safety, including situational awareness and the need to practice skills.

The class is designed to be flexible and modular. Unlike many U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary courses, Instructors may tailor aspects of the course to the specific audience. For example, Stand Up Paddlers (SUP) will need less education about much of the safety equipment needed by kayakers. Kayak fishermen have special safety needs that differ from SUPs.

There is no prescribed time for this instruction. The length and content can be tailored to meet paddlers’ needs. It may be offered shore-side at a livery prior to departure in a time of 30 minutes or so. It may be offered at a public affairs event in a similar time frame. It may be offered in a classroom and expanded, with examples and details into a two-hour or more course.

This is a “seminar” course. There is no text and no final exam. Students receive no “credit” or “certification” for completing the course. Instructors may award a “certificate of attendance” at their own discretion, but such a certificate is neither evidence of mastery of the material nor of paddling skill.

Students are encouraged to obtain subsequent skills training and practice under the guidance of a certified on-the-water instructor.

A Paddler's Guide to Safety (PGS) Class Schedules

There are currently no scheduled classes for this curriculum.