Paddle Now! - Trip Waiver and Policies

A Word About Trips and Ratings

CPA Trips are organized by members of the club for members of the club. When you participate in them, please remember a few things: Trip leaders are “hosts”, not professional guides. They are not necessarily trained in first aid nor CPR, and do not always carry first aid equipment nor safety devices for your use.

You, and you alone, are responsible for your personal safety.

Trip leaders will pre-screen all participants for skills, equipment, and willingness to abide by club rules and policies. If you wish to join a trip, please contact the leader in advance. While on the water, all paddlers must wear PFDs, spray skirts, and clothes appropriate to the water temperature. Boats must have watertight bulkheads or flotation to prevent the kayak from swamping when capsized. All paddlers must have, and know how to use, a pump and paddle float. On the day of the trip, leaders may refuse to admit participants for non-compliance with any of these, so if you are not sure, discuss it with the leader in advance!

All paddlers must sign a CPA waiver of liability. For the safety of the group as a whole, trip participants must agree to abide by club policies and rules and to follow instructions of the trip leader.

Trip Ratings

Trip ratings depend on the judgment of the leader.  This information is designed to provide guidelines that will help the leaders make an accurate assessment of the level of difficulty of the paddle and the skills required by participants.  In addition to conditions (table below), leaders should take distance, pace, and special conditions such as open water crossings into account in setting the trip rating.  Whenever a trip leader decides that there are circumstances that may increase the level of difficulty of a paddle, higher trip ratings may be appropriate.

First Timers: for those who have never paddled before.

The following table represents conditions (combinations of sea condition, wind, waves, current and surf) that are appropriate for each trip level beyond First Timers:





Surf Break

Level 1


Calm, flat water

Protected from wind

Minimal waves from wind or boat traffic

None apparent


Level 2

(Advanced Beginner)

Protected water near shore

Up to 10 knots

Up to 1 foot

Up to

1 knot


Level 3


Gentle to Moderate Sea Conditions

Up to 10 - 15 knots

(Force 3 to 4 on the Beaufort Scale)

1 - 2 feet

Up to

2 knots

To 2 feet

Level 4

(Advanced Intermediate)

Moderate Sea Conditions 1


Up to 16 knots

(Force  4 on the Beaufort Scale)

To 2 feet

Up to

3 knots

To 2 feet

Level 5


Moderate Sea Conditions 1



Up to 20 knots

(Force  4 to 5 on the Beaufort Scale)

To 4 feet

Up to

4 knots,

with standing waves

To 3 feet

1 2 or 3 of the above conditions may be appropriate, but all 4 together are not recommended in the same trip.

See Trip Ratings page for detailed discussion of how these criteria are to be applied in practice.

Minimum Required Safety Equipment for CPA Trips

The minimum safety gear for participating in a club trip and other official events are (beyond a kayak and paddle) as follows:

  1. personal flotation device (PFD) and sound producing device, such as whistle (USCG requirements). PFD must be properly worn.
  2. paddle float
  3. bilge pump (except sit-on-tops)
  4. spray skirt on boats designed to accomodate them- must be worn (check with trip leader for exceptions)
  5. water tight bulkheads or flotation bags (to prevent kayak from sinking when capsized)
  6. light that can be shown to prevent a collision (USCG requirement, night paddle only)

Trip Participant Screening and Sign Up

When signing up for a trip, be prepared to provide the following information:
  • What is your name?
  • What is your phone number?
  • What type of boat do you paddle?
  • Do you have bow and stern floatation?
  • Do you have a spray skirt?
  • Do you have a paddle float?
  • Do you have a bilge pump?
  • Do you have a personal floatation device (PFD)?
  • Do you have cold water gear?
  • How long have you been paddling?
  • Do you know how to wet exit?
  • Do you know how to self rescue?
  • What is your usual paddling distance?
  • What range of conditions have you paddled in?
  • Do you have any medical conditions?
  • What is your swimming ability?

CPA Policy Regarding Trip Waivers

It is CPA’s policy to require that all participants in CPA sponsored trips and events sign legal release forms before setting out on the water. Trip leaders and “event organizers” are responsible for obtaining blank release forms, for securing signatures from participants, and for returning the signed forms to the Club Secretary for safekeeping for a period of at least 3 years. A fresh signature must be obtained for each separate trip or event, except that only one release per season is required for regularly-scheduled events such as the weekly activities of the “pirates” at Pier 7 and other venues. The legal release absolves all participating CPA members from legal liability for the injury or death of a fellow participant, and allows us to continue to organize and participate in group activities without undue fear of incurring personal legal liability. Failure to collect, save, and forward these waivers by trip leaders may invalidate their coverage under our liability policy.

Start paddling sooner! Print out and sign this Waiver of Liability form and bring it with you to the launch location. The form is available as an Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) file. Download the PDF Reader here:

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