Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning Online Course Q&A

By Paddlesport Team

We are excited to now be offering the British Canoeing Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning course online, in addition to the face to face courses we’ve been delivering for many years here at Glenmore Lodge. Find out more about it from Paddlesports Instructor Matt Haydock


What is the online British Canoeing Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning course and who is it designed for?

The Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning course is a certificated course designed by British Canoeing (which is the national governing body for paddlesport).

This highly inclusive course is designed for any paddler who may be completely new to coastal paddling, and aspires to go on safer and enjoyable trips independently in the future; or indeed those who have already done some coastal paddling and wish to develop or consolidate their planning skills and knowledge. 

It is for people who paddle any craft, be that: sea kayak, sit-on-top, stand up paddleboard, open canoe, packraft etc.  We’ve also had open water swimmers on courses before, who have found it beneficial.

The course is also a pre-requisite for some British Canoeing leadership awards so the course is also key for those paddlers looking to complete these awards.



What are the aims and what will participants learn about on the course?

The key aim of the course is for participants to feel confident that they can undertake safer and more enjoyable coastal journeys in their chosen craft, armed with lots more knowledge. This will allow paddlers to gain a stronger feeling of independence and control on the water, be more confident in making their own decisions, and feel like they can feed into discussions when paddling as a group, rather than being a blind follower. Practice makes perfect of course when it comes to navigation and decision making skills, and the aim is for participants to leave this course feeling keen and ready to plan their own journey, paddle that journey on the water, and practice these skills safely along the way.

The course is split into 4 key topics.

  • Planning a journey on the sea nearly always starts with considering WEATHER.  We will look at what weather information we need to plan a coastal journey, and where we can access this information.
  • Knowing where you are is a big part of staying safe on the sea, and NAVIGATION is another topic we will look at.  This will include both modern methods of navigation (GPS, apps and software) as well as the more traditional (maps and nautical charts).
  • We’ll spend another session considering TIDES.  Tidal theory is a wide-ranging complex subject, but we will distil this down to the key bits of information we need to plan a journey, and where to access it – keeping things nice and simple.
  • With these three key areas in the bag, it’s then just about practice – so the final session is all about TRIP PLANNING.  We will plan some classic Scottish journeys together, step-by-step, at a nice steady pace, spotting the traps to fall into, and learning collectively with the support of your instructor.



How and when will the course be delivered, and what support will participants get?

The course is comprised of 4 “live sessions” which will be delivered online, with a 2 hour session once a week (7-9pm), over 4 weeks.  Beyond that and outwit these sessions though, you’ll also have access to a range of support and resources:

  • Access to the slides and content from each session, so you can revisit it through the week between the sessions, and go over it again at your own pace, in your own time.
  • Between each session you’ll also have optional worksheets, and some homework exercises.  These won’t be a marked exam, or anything like that!  They simply serve as an opportunity for you to consolidate the learning from each session, and get things clearer in your own head.
  • If you’re still finding an aspect confusing or you need more support, you’ll always be able to contact your instructor through the week, and post-course, to go over anything again.

What are the benefits to completing this course online?

Along with the environmental benefits of not travelling to a classroom to complete the course, it means you can access knowledge in the comfort of your own home and familiar space.  You can learn the content in bite-sized chunks, at a steadier pace, with lots of support available along the way. We also look forward to welcoming paddlers from further afield too!

If online really isn’t your thing though (it’s not always for everyone), we continue to offer this course face-to-face, on site here at Glenmore Lodge.



Can people who have never been paddling on the sea, but plan to start this summer/in the future come along?

Absolutely.  If you’re a complete beginner, you are very much welcome on this inclusive course.  The content and knowledge is key for all experience levels, and our instructors are well practiced at individualising the learning for a wide variety of people and skill levels.

Tidal theory and planning can often seem confusing, mathematical and intimidating to people.  Is the content pretty complex?

This is an incredibly common question and concern of many, to the extent it can cause people to shy away from getting involved in the planning process, and just leave it to someone else!  The aim is definitely to build confidence, and not make this out to be a dark art.  There’s a wee bit of maths, but nothing really beyond adding and subtracting, and calculators are allowed!  It’s very easy to fall into the trap of making it heavily theoretical – but being pragmatic on the sea is equally as important, as well as being able to use the information readily and confidently.  Confusion will certainly be avoided, and there will be wide ranging support available to prevent that.



For people that cannot make these sessions, is this course also available for individuals/clubs/groups on a bespoke basis?  Are there any other courses available for those with a bit more experience?

Absolutely.  We can offer this course at a time to suit you/your group, so please just get in touch.

The Open Water Navigation & Tidal Planning course builds on the content from this course, and is tailored to sea kayakers who aspire to paddle in more complex tidal environments and on open crossings, and we also offer this on a bespoke basis.

To book onto our next Online CNTP course, please click the below link:

British Canoeing Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning – ONLINE – Glenmore Lodge