• January 7, 2017
    2017 Spring Exchange:
    Hosted by Gabriola Sea Kayaking on Gabriola Island, BC! More...

  • July 6, 2016
    2016 Fall Exchange:
    Hosted by PIKA on Pender Island, BC! More...

  • June 2, 2016
    2016 Fall Exams:
    Level Two and Three Exams Dates Posted! More...

  • February 1, 2016
    2016 Spring Exams:
    Level Two and Three Exams Dates Posted! More...

  • January 7, 2016
    2016 Spring Exchange:
    Hosted by Terracentric and Footprint Nature Exploration in Lund, BC! More...

  • August 14, 2015
    2015 Fall Exchange - Skookumchuck:
    September 24-26, 2015 - Current, skill sessions, socializing!

  • March 3, 2015
    2015 Spring Exchange:
    April 17-19, 2015 - Sooke! Skill sessions, seminars, socializing!

  • March 17, 2014
    2014 Spring Exchange:
    May 9-11, 2014 - Salt Spring Island. Skill sessions, seminars, socializing!

  • March 17, 2014
    On-Going Training Policy Update:
    The SKGABC has evolved the On-Going Training policy to give options to more members! More...

  • Dec 22, 2013
    Northern Gateway Pipeline: SKGABC working to safeguard the BC coastline and sea kayaking industry.

  • Oct 25, 2013
    2013 Annual General Meeting: Nov 9, 2013 - Nanaimo, BC.

  • May 15, 2013
    Toquaht Bay Closure
    Alternative launch sites available at village of Macoah. More...

  • March 26, 2013
    Electronic Guide Logs
    Submit your logs using an easy electronic spreadsheet! More...

  • August, 2012
    Wolf Advisory: Vargas / Flores Island Park - Clayoquot Sound Due to wolf activity on Vargas and Flores Island this summer, BC Parks has issued a Wolf Advisory More...

  • June 1, 2012
    Tsunami Debris Reporting Environment Canada - Tsunami Debris Sighting and Reporting Information

  • May 25, 2012
    Online Resource Sheets Printable equipment list, emergency contact list, earthquake and tsunami notification, operating standards summary and more!

  • May 23, 2012
    Pacific Coast - Marine Weather Guide Environment Canada Marine Weather Guide for the BC Coast updated and online!

  • February 14, 2012
    Updated - Water Classification Maps: Outlining water classfications within British Columbia

  • February 14, 2012
    New Pro-Deal: Killarney Kayaks joins the SKGABC Pro-Deal Program! Deals for members from companies like: Aquabound, Brooks, Broform, Delta, Level Six, Nimbus, North Water, Ortlieb, and Seaward! Members Area

  • Technical Guides Manual
    The SKGABC has produced a manual for guides of every level. For more information Click Here


For older news, please click here


If you have a question about the SKGABC, please contact us!


Operating Standards
(Updated Jan 12, 2014)



To establish, promote and maintain high standards of sea kayaking safety, conduct, and representation through an alliance of professionals.


The below minimum standards are based on best practices of experience professional sea kayak guides, a higher level of care may be required when conditions or clientele warrant. The SKGABC makes no guarantee that meeting these standards will ensure a safe trip. Companies and guides share the responsibility of operating their trips according to the statute laws and regulations of the land, and where required by the standards of professional associations of which they are members. Standards are not a substitution for federal and/or provincial laws, experience or due diligence. It is therefore imperative that guides have a clear understanding and agreement of responsibilities with the company they are guiding for. 



Doubles Onlysuperscript


& Doublessuperscript

Maximum    Group Sizesuperscript

Class 1 and  2





Class 3





Class 4





superscriptAll guides used for ratio purposes are required to be an appropriately certified SKGABC Guide or a guide with equivalent certification recognized by the SKGABC to lead or assist in the appropriate trip classifications.

superscriptAll guests must use double kayak at all times, guides may be in single kayaks. If a guest is ever in a single kayak then “Singles & Doubles” ratios and group size limits apply.

superscriptA minimum of 1 double kayak for trips of 5 or less guests and a minimum of 2 double kayaks with 6 to 10. If fewer double kayaks are used then the “Singles Only” ratio and group size limits apply.

Note: Operators should be aware of other operating standards that are required by government agencies (i.e. Parks Canada) and may require alternate guide to client ratios or maximum group sizes. 


Set by the most difficult part of the trip. See Classification Maps for details.

  • Class1: Gentle tours in non-challenging protected waters with limited wind effect, little or no current, easy landings, and ready access to land based assistance.
  • Class 2: Tours in lightly populated areas with short crossings, moderate potential wind effects, gentle to moderate non-turbulent currents, easy to moderate landings and light surf beaches.
  • Class 3: Exposed water, sparsely populated areas with more committing crossings, moderate to strong currents with turbulence, moderate to strong wind effects, ocean swells, difficult landings, surf-beaches.
  • Class 4: Long committing crossings, uninhabited, rugged and exposed coast, strong turbulent currents, strong wind effects, large swells, difficult landings, exposed surf beaches.


  • Level 1 Guide: Certified to lead day trips in Class 1 waters. Certified to lead day trips in Class 2 waters when in direct communication to on-site/base managersuperscript.
  • Assistant Overnight Guide: As per Level 1 guide plus assist in Class 1,2,3 waters. An AOG in direct communication with a Mothership Vessel may independently lead day trips in class two waters only after logging 30 days assisting with another guide.5
  • Level 2 Guide: Certified to lead in Class 1 and 2 waters and assist in Class 1,2,3 waters. Assist any course.
  • Level 3 Guide: Certified to lead in Class 1,2,3  waters and assist any course.
  • Class 4 Waters Endorsement Certified to lead in Class 1,2,3 and 4 waters and assist any course.
  • Guide Trainer:  Certified to lead in Class 1,2,3  waters, deliver any course, examine Level 1 and Assistant Overnight guides.
  • Examiner: Certified to lead in Class 1,2,3  waters, assist any courses, and examine any guide.

Note:    Guide refers to an appropriately certified SKGABC Guide or a guide with equivalent certification recognized by the SKGABC. For complete guide requirements visit

superscripton-site/base refers to any staging area that has direct land based access to medical help.

5 Mothership Vessels, by their very nature, have the ability to venture further from conventional assistance and therefore warrant a higher level of experience on the part of the guide.


  • All members agree to abide by all SKGABC standards, policies, by-laws and constitution.
  • All members agree to abide by all pertinent local, provincial and federal laws and regulations. 
  • All member companies agree to employ guides who are certified to lead in waters appropriate to the trip classifications.
  • All trips must have a comprehensive emergency and evacuation plan.
  • All member companies need to ensure that each trip and/or trip area has a written contingency plan for the guide to refer to in the event of unforeseen circumstances other than an emergency.
  • All members agree to the responsible use of our wilderness resources, and will strive to leave areas visited in the same or better condition than when they arrived.
  • All members agree to ensure that clients travel together within easy vocal and visual communication range of the guides, and that clear communication protocols are established with all clients prior to travel.
  • No guide shall be penalized for adhering strictly to SKGABC standards.


It is the responsibility of companies to provide kayaks and equipment in good working order and appropriate fit that meet the requirements of intended use plus meet Canadian Coast Guard Small Vessel Regulations. Visit Transport Canada’s website at for up to date regulations.
In addition to any equipment required by law, the following are standard equipment for all trips: 

  • Government approved PFD per person must be worn.
  • A minimum of one full spare kayak paddle per guide.
  • Each person to carry a sound signaling device (e.g. whistle).
  • Bailing device per cockpit (e.g. pump).
  • Spray skirt for each cockpit in a closed kayak.
  • Towline per guide (readily accessible).
  • A complete and appropriate first aid kit (consider emergency response time, first aid training, and anticipated conditions).
  • Emergency communication equipment (VHF, HF, cellular phone, satellite phone, waterproofed and easily accessible). It is the responsibility of the company and the trip guides to ensure that this equipment is appropriate and fully operational along the intended route.
  • Spare battery pack(s) for communication equipment.
  • Capacity to receive marine weather info.
  • 3 flares per guide, readily accessible with access to at least two types, (parachute, smoke, multi-star, etc).
  • Sufficient buoyancy to allow boats to be re-entered and paddled when awash.
  • A comprehensive kayak and equipment repair kit.
  • Each guide to carry navigational equipment suitable for dealing with sudden loss of visibility.

Complaints regarding the failure of members to adhere to SKGABC standards will be addressed as follows:

  • Only written and signed complaints will be considered and recorded.
  • A copy of the complaint will be sent to the member involved for response.
  • The member’s response will be considered by a jury of appeal appointed by the Executive as per the By-laws of the SKGABC.
  • If the response is acceptable no further action will be taken and the complaint will be withdrawn. If the member is determined to be non-compliant, a Letter of Warning will be sent requesting change of practice, with a copy to the aggrieved party.
  • A repeat offense will result in a second Letter of Warning following a repeat of steps A through D.
  • A third offense will result in the expulsion of the member from the SKGABC.


Note: On all water classification charts if a water classification boundary is crossed then the Classification is upgraded to the next level (i.e. if you paddle across the Strait of Georgia it would be considered Class III, not Class II).

Complete up to date water classification charts


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The Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of B.C. operates in the traditional territories of the Coast Salish, Kwakwaka'wakw,
Nuu-chah-nulth, Oweekeno, Nuxalk, Heiltsuk, Haisla, Tsimshian, Haida, Nisga’a, and Tlingit First Nations.