Forms for Our Guests

Important! Each person must fill out a Liability Release Form. To save time, download the PDF here and bring it with you on the day of the trip. 

Liability Release Form

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you mean: "no experience needed"? 

Kayak touring is a sport that almost everyone can enjoy. This is not whitewater kayaking with tumbling water and treacherous rapids. Kayak touring ranges from lazy paddling in calm water (our shorter wetlands explorations) to steady paddling with resistance from wind and/or current (our longer river crossings and day adventures). 


Each has a foot-controlled rudder operated by the person sitting in the back. Before we launch, your guide will give you a basic boat talk, paddle talk, safety talk and an orientation to the river. 


Our "Explore the Martinez Wetlands" and "Explore the Benicia Coast" are good first trips for beginners - the distances are short, conditions are usually good (see below). The Martinez marina offers a protected environment for practicing your strokes and steering. Our extended shoreline paddles are good intermediate adventures - longer distances and more varied conditions. If you are "an outdoor person," our river crossings should be quite doable even without previous paddling experience.  


Before signing up for any of our trips, we encourage you to honestly evaluate your strength and ability. If you're not sure about a trip, please call and talk with us - we'd be happy to talk with you further about what to expect Please let us know in advance if you have physical conditions that might limit your paddling - we'll try to accommodate your needs and pair you with a strong paddling partner.


More about kayaking for beginners ... click here 

What should I wear and what should I bring? 

Dress comfortably and for that day's weather forecast. As with most California adventures, dress in layers. It's always best to avoid wearing cotton T-shirts because cotton dries slowly and does not insulate well when wet. Kayaking is a water sport ... so be prepared! but it is not necessary to wear a bathing suit or wet suit. 


Please pack light ... there's very limited storage space in a kayak and you won't be needing as much as you think! 


Here's our suggested list of things to wear and bring:

  • Sunglasses

  • Hat or cap for sun protection

  • Hiking sandals, water shoes or really funky tennis shoes

  • Sun shirt

  • Fleece or light jacket if conditions suggest wind or clouds

  • Camera (bring a zip lock bag or other waterproof bag)

  • Sunscreen

  • Water bottle

  • Munchies or lunch 
    (depending on the length of the trip - see specific trip details)

We provide: 

  • Light-weight water-resistant spray jackets 

  • Dry bags for packing extra clothes, etc.

  • Pocket binoculars (4x - one per boat)

  • Light munchies

  • Hats, warm clothes and water bottles as needed

What are the paddling conditions along the shoreline and on the Straits? 

General Conditions

Generally the water is quite friendly. Winds do pick up occasionally creating swells of one to two feet - not difficult to handle, but thrilling for novices. The wakes of larger boats and tugs are sometimes higher than natural swells and waves, but are also rare, brief and manageable - usually less intense than ferry wakes on the Bay. 


The water temperature in the fall and winter is definitely chilly but somewhat warmer than Bay or ocean water. From late spring through Indian summer (mid-Oct.), the water is usually warm enough for swimming (!) - wet suits are not needed. We currently do not offer trips when conditions warrant wet suits.

For River Crossings and Day Adventures on the Straits

The river is approximately one to one and a half miles wide (depending on our route) - crossings take about 20 to 30 minutes. Currents are generally modest - typically between 1.3 and 2.5 knots. Several days per month, the current during one of the daily ebb tides will reach 3.0 to 3.4, with rare seasonal peak ebbs at 4.5 to 5.9 knots - we generally avoid paddling during periods of high currents. 


Current strength varies quite a bit by location. Experience has shown that even during the strongest ebb currents, there is slack or a slight upstream back current near the very edge of the river. This can be quite welcome on a return paddle during an ebb. Our trips are planned around the tides and currents.


Traffic along the river includes small pleasure craft, sailboats and occasional tugs and tankers. Tankers can be seen quite some distance away, allowing pods of kayaks to either complete a river traverse or hold off until the "coast is clear." 

Am I going to tip over? Will I get wet?

Two-person touring kayaks are quite stable. The most frequent causes of capsize are: 1) collisions with fellow paddlers (pilot error!), 2) horseplay (discouraged), and 3) getting caught off-guard broadside by a large wave. Our river talk covers paddling and navigation strategies as well as tips on avoiding capsizes and how to respond if you do go over. Our guides are trained and equipped to get you back in your boat. Capsizes are rare, but if you do go over, remember: the first thing to do is smile! 


Westwind Adventures