Tides and Currents and Wind Basics

Tides Current and Wind Basics

Tides, current and wind basics will introduce you to the essentials to how water moves and how we determine how we move through the water.

Understanding these forces will help you make smarter decisions in planning paddling day and overnight trips in the Pacific Northwest or beyond.

Whether you’re doing a day trip, touring, surfing, downwinding, playing in tidal rapids, racing or more, knowing how each works will help your outcome.

Learning Tides Currents and Wind Basics will prepare you to better learn the hands-on methods of marine navigation.

The next course, Marine Navigation gets into chart work, taking bearings and compass work for crossings, route planning. Much of that require understanding tides and currents and wind first. Getting the bearing for a 4 mile crossing requires ferry angles when current and/or wind exist.

That means knowing how to read current and intervals to determine crossing bearings and how to adjust them as the current flow will differ in the first and third hours. We use the 50/90 rule for that, which is learned in this class.

This class is two 3 hour evening classroom sessions every most Tuesdays and Wednesdays –  6:30 – 9:30pm at the Ballard Elks Club in Seattle.

2022 Dates: Nov 1 & 2 / December 6 & 7


You’ll receive a complimentary copy of SBP owner Rob Casey’s book “Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips

Your Instructor – Robert Nissenbaum –

An adventure seeker, Robert has paddled much of the Puget Sound, kayaking and camping year-round, navigating tidal currents, wind, rough water, and large, open-water crossings. He is an ACA certified instructor, member of Washington Kayak Club, and instructor with the North Sound Sea Kayaking Association.

He is a member of Qajaq USA and holds the ACA Advanced Communications Instructor Endorsement and can work with students with vision impairment or blindness, hearing impairment, deafness and speech impairments. When not on the water, he’s looking out to it writing from his home off Poverty Bay in Des Moines, WA.


Core Skills You’ll Gain


  • Type of tide cycle in the the Puget Sound
  • Type of tides and tidal range
  • Why do tides matter?
  • Tides Effect on currents
  • Determining tidal height
  • Common Online resources, Apps and Publications
  • Rule of 12th’s
  • Chart Datum
  • Take home exercise – paddle log


  • Practical application for kayaking and paddle boarding Currents
  • What are oceanic currents
  • What drives oceanic currents
  • Flood vs ebb currents, slack water
  • Why we need to understand currents – basics
  • Direction of travel
  • Avoiding strong currents, tide races, tidal rips
  • Timing getting through the area at slack or the lowest current rate
  • Bowman Bay to Cornet Bay….crosses through Deception Pass – need to make sure to hit that point at slack water.
  • Why we need to understand currents – speed
  • Determining the current rate
  • Online resources / Apps / Publications
  • 50/90 rule / Rule of Thirds
  • Current anomalies and features – What are they and how do we identify them
  • Eddy lines, tide races, back eddies, boils, and overflows
  • Take home exercise – paddle log


  • Understanding the effect of speed and direction
  • Understanding the effect of wind with current
  • Understanding the effect of wind with tidal height
  • Understanding the effect of wind on a kayak and SUP Practical exercise – planning a trip
  • Take home exercise – paddle log

Recommended Texts for Class – Purchase at class or after


Student Benefits

  • Instructor Follow-up After Class – We’ll send you a summary of skills you learned in your lesson as well as our favorite marine weather and tides apps.
  • You’ll able to join our Facebook Alumni Group to continue learning and for connecting with other paddlers.
  • SBP owner Rob Casey is always available to help you find paddling gear, find places to paddle and help you get to your next level.
  • Get a 20% discount from Mountaineers Books for any title. Or get Rob’s books: ‘Kayaking Puget Sound‘ and ‘Stand Up Paddling Flat Water to Surf and Rivers.
  • Receive a Salmon Bay Paddle sticker!



Duration: 2 three hour evening classroom sessions

Schedule:  Most First Tuesdays and Wednesdays – 6:30pm to 9:30pm

Nov 1 & 2 / December 6 & 7

Location: Seattle at the Ballard Elks Lodge

Who Should Take This Class? Kayakers, rowers and paddle boarders and/or other watercraft folks!  Any skill level. Great for Seventy48 training.

Capacity: 10 people

Requirements: Must speak and/or understand English

Covid-19: We follow current State and King County Covid guidance for indoor classes.



$259 per person

Contact me for any questions

“Anyone who paddles in the Puget Sound will benefit from taking Robert Nissenbaum’s Tides and Currents course. After taking his class, I feel more prepared navigating through the different conditions of the Puget Sound. Robert’s class provides helpful information that is for any level of kayaker, paddle boarder, or anyone else interested in a new paddlesport. Robert is a wonderful and knowledgeable instructor who makes learning new concepts easy and fun. His teaching style is approachable and casual and he is passionate about sharing this crucial information to keep paddlers safe and prepared. Whether in a classroom or on the water, I strongly recommend Robert’s classes and will definitely be taking more Salmon Bay Paddle classes in the future!”


- Trina H (Nov 2022)

“This is a great class – it’s been the foundation of knowledge that I keep adding to, and helped me be comfortable navigating Deception Pass regularly and learn to put theory into practice. Definitely increased my ability to have fun and explore dynamic environs of the coastal PNW. Thanks SBP instructor Robert Nissenbaum”


- Jac H

“Just wanted to say that Robert was an amazing instructor for the T&C class in Anacortes. Glad I signed up!”


- Susan B

“Great class!  Probably one I’d say as a requirement if you’re out on the Sound and don’t have much boating or open water experience.”


- Ariel P

“Today was awesome. I stepped way out of my comfort zone. That’s what took me so long to decide if I was driving or paddling. Once again, I thank the skills and confidence Robert gave me. I still don’t feel I could easily self rescue but where we paddled today I felt that even if I went in, I’d be okay.

6 months ago that wouldn’t have been the case. And I really appreciate your tip on my bent arms. It felt awkward to me, but I definitely felt the difference in power. I will use that next weekend when we paddle our 26 miles of Lake Cushman, so thank you!

- Dnitra A

“I thoroughly enjoyed my class on currents, tides and navigation held at deception pass  this weekend. His attention to detail and patience was thoroughly enjoyable.”

- Susan B

I conquered several fears paddling in currents and surfing waves and owe it to Rob, where safety and professional instructions are Salmon Bay Paddle’s top priorities!

- Margrit Ralph

I’ve been paddling on flat water for about a year and thought I was pretty good.  Then Rob patiently explained how to make my paddling more efficient, how to deal with swells and choppy water and how to be more comfortable and safe on the board.  In one hour, I became a much better paddler.  If SUP is new to you or if you’ve been at it for a while, Rob will help you have more fun on a paddle board.

- Karsten Hagen, Bend

“I wanted to pull two visiting teenage girls out of their comfort zone of shopping, make-up and Netflix. Having personally taken lessons with Rob a couple years ago, I contacted him to see if we could arrange something. Instructor Joe McColskey, a former high school teacher and personal trainer was up to the challenge. The girls really enjoyed their SUP Basics session.”

- Lynn P

“Rob is a fantastic stand up paddle board instructor. His knowledge of the sport and the local waters is remarkable. I’ve been out for a couple of lessons with him now and I’ve learned a lot and become a better paddler each time. I especially appreciate his commitment to safety and doing things the right way. He’s also just a good dude and I highly recommend him to anyone interested in SUP.”

- Shanon Dell, Sequim

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