Frequently Asked Questions
What should I wear in the fall / winter/ spring / when it might rain?
Dressing for late season kayaking is much like dressing for summer kayaking with more insulation. You should look at what temperatures are forecasted for your tour and think about what you'd be comfortable wearing on land. You should avoid cotton, wool and fleece are your friends. You should bring a rain jacket so you can have it if you need it. In sea kayaks you are sealed into the boat with a spray skirt, this keeps any rain out and your body heat warms up the inside of the cockpit. When we get into the boats we do momentarily put our feet in the water so avoid cotton socks, but then you put them into the cockpit which quickly warms with your body heat.
What do you do when it rains?
The Pacific Northwest west of the Cascade mountains, including the Nisqually Reach is subject to warm dry summers, and cool wet winters. We monitor the weather for safety conditions, but we do not cancel simply for rain which is a normal part of our weather. Guests should be prepared with rain jackets and ideally non-cotton clothing such as wool or synthetics.
Do I need a parking pass?
Currently we are running our tours at 2 locations. The Luhr beach boat launch and the Steilacoom ferry dock (with eyes on adding more sites in in the future). For the Luhr beach boat launch you need to have a Discover Pass, that unfortunately are not sold on site. For the Steilacoom based tours like the Porpoise Paddle, you will need to bring $6 cash that you can use to pay for parking.
Can I rent a kayak to use without a guide?
We will rent boats if you have a certification of a 3 star rating in the BCU or ACA systems or equivalent international rating. Further if you can demonstrate that you possess the skills indicated by a 3 star rating or higher we will rent to you. If you don't possess these certifications we will not be able to make an unguided rental to you.
How will I need to sit in the kayaks? What if I have a medical concern?
This video is a great demonstration of the sea kayaking posture. Here is a link to specifications of the kayaks we use. If you are concerned about your ability to sit in a "sit inside" sea kayak for the length of your tour you should seek one out perhaps at a shop to make sure you can sit in it, or sit against a wall in the sea kayaking posture. If you have a medical concern you should seek the approval of your doctor. If you end up dropping out of the tour during orientation or the day of we will be unable to give you a refund because you have reserved a seat that we are unable to sell to someone else.
Will I need to wear a life jacket / personal floatation device?
Yes (they are provided, you can bring your own coast guard approved life vest if you wish).
What if I don't want to paddle? Can a guide go in my boat to paddle for me?
Generally speaking you must paddle your own kayak. A guide will not paddle your boat for you, occasionally guides do go in the 2 person kayaks with guests but for safety and practicality there is a strong expectation that the passenger will also paddle. Younger children and others who are unable to paddle can go but there is the expectation that an able bodied person from their party will paddle with them, and this person will essentially be paddling for 2 (easier to do for a child or slight person than a fully grown adult). Remember in addition to kayaks there are motor boats, adults who do not wish to paddle should seek out motor propelled transportation.
What is the age limit for tours?
Generally children must be at least 5 years of age, with the expectation that an able bodied person from their party will paddle with them, and this person will essentially be paddling for 2.
What is the maximum weight for participants?
This is slightly trickier to answer than it might seem. Boreal recommends a max passenger weight of 225lbs (102kg), but these kayaks are meant for hauling cargo and so they have a combined weight limit of 481 lbs (218kg). In many cases the shape of the paddlers body matters more than simply the total weight.because the hole we sit in called the cockpit has a width of 16.5" (42cm).
Is there a height limit for participants?
In our experience we have found the maximum height to operate the captain's seat in the back, or stern cockpit tends to be about 6'3" (1.9m), we can accommodate slightly taller in the front or bow cockpit.
What is your refund policy?
Customers will receive a full refund or credit with 72 hours notice of cancellation for and then a 50% refund until 24 hours prior. Overnight camping trips are only refundable with the full 72 hours. Customers will also receive a full refund or credit in case of operator cancellation due to weather that is unsafe for kayaking or other unforeseen circumstances. Contact us by email (preferred) or phone to cancel or inquire about a cancellation. No-shows will be charged the full price.
If you have a "fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, or new loss of smell", or had a known exposure to covid-19, let us know and we will cancel your reservation and you can reschedule at no penalty, even if its after our normal period for refunds.
What is your policy on air quality from fires?
We will cancel tours and offer a full refund if the Washington Air Quality Advisory states that air quality in the area of the tour reaches "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" or worse. However because air quality in those conditions is partially dependent on prevailing winds, we will wait to make that determination until it is clear that the smoke levels will indeed be bad, which could sometimes be as late as the day of depending on the forecast, but we'll try and make the determination 1-3 days prior.