2019 Schoodic Sea Kayak Retreat

Event Date

This is the page for the 2019 Event

For information on the 2022 Schoodic Retreat, Please Visit this Page.

The 2nd Annual Schoodic Retreat 

This five day event features the East Coast's finest sea kayaking and highlights a chance to try the amazing wooden kayaks by Nick Schade in the conditions they were designed for.  

Schoodic Point

We had a great time in 2018 so we are doing it again in 2019.

Sponsored By Chesapeake Light Craft
Chesapeake Light Craft

Hang a left down Route 1 from Ellsworth and the crowds dissipate, but you are navigating towards some of the finest kayaking on the east coast.

On the east side of Frenchman Bay, away from the bustle of Bar Harbor, lies a largely forgotten piece of Acadia National Park, Schoodic Point. Exposed to the open swell, with rugged rocky shorelines, steep storm racked cliffs and spectacular scenery, it is hard to imagine a finer body of water to explore in a sea kayak.

sea kayaking near rocks


Under the expert leadership of experienced sea kayaking instructors and guides, you will discover why you love kayaking all over again. Nick Schade, Gerry Polinsky assisted by Barb Todd and Joey Schott, will lead you along amazing shore lines, across beautiful harbors and around spectacular islands where you can either bask in the glory of it all, or expand your skills, while exploring fantastic rock gardens, sea caves, slots and off shore ledges.  With the five-day format, all paddlers will have the opportunity to experience the renowned Sullivan Reversing Falls (aka white water for sea kayaks).

An aspect unique to this event and well received in 2018 is the non-paddling participant program. Friends and significant others are welcome and there is plenty of local adventure to keep them occupied while you are on the water including spectacular hiking, trail biking (rentable bikes), art galleries, taking a ferry over to explore Acadia Park, shop in Bar Harbor and, most fun, throwing rocks at paddlers from the scenic cliffs around the Schoodic Peninsula.  There will be a good number of non-paddlers so it will be easy for them to find folks to adventure with.

This year's event is a Monday to Friday affair.  Given all this spectacular area has to offer, there will be options to add day(s) at the institute before or after the event proper to allow for local exploration.

New for 2019

We've expanded from a three-day to a five-day format, allowing more time to build progressively and giving paddlers an opportunity to jump between groups as they wish and is appropriate.  

Off Water Activities

There will be more "off water" programming aimed at both paddlers and non-paddling participants featuring a night sky tutorial by Carl Tjerandsen, an avid amateur astronomer, and a Bar Harbor formal garden tour led by knowledgeable designer Eric Hansen - both participants at Schoodic Retreat 2018. Also, a naturalist presenting on the state's bald eagle program and a casual step-by-step, super fun, art class where adult beverages meets the DIY world of art.

Joey will be running a rolling class that's open to new rollers and those looking to refine their skills.  

Boat Swap

Nick and Gerry are most excited to hold a park-and-play day for the entire group, held in a quiet bay adjoining the reversing falls, featuring a chance for everyone to try out Nick's Guillemot Kayaks boats. His designs are renowned for their open water performance and playful action.  This is a rare and unique opportunity to experience Nick's boats' exceptional capacity in their intended environment.

Sea Kayaking

The Schoodic Retreat allows paddlers of various experience levels, from advanced beginner to advanced open water paddlers, and guided exploration of the fantastic surroundings and, to the degree individuals are interested,  hone their rough water skills through individualized instruction.  Participants will have the opportunity to paddle with "pods" of similarly experienced kayakers.  

Pod 1 is geared to advanced beginners to open water paddling looking to play and explore in a fantastic setting. Skilled instructors will help you integrate your experiences into comfort on open water.

Pod 2 is for those that have more time in rough water.    This is your opportunity to push your boundaries and expand your skills under the watchful eye of experienced instructors.

Pod 3 is a long leash, hard-charging, play opportunity and "top tips" style coaching appropriate to your goals and needs. 

Our base of operations for the will be the Schoodic Institute. Originally created by John D. Rockefeller Jr. for the Navy so they wouldn’t ruin his vacation over in Bar Harbor, the site served as a Naval radio station and security listening post from 1933 until 2002. Surrounded by water and with easy walks to amazing ocean views and beautiful hiking trails through the woods, the Institute has a mission to advance ecosystem science and learning.

The institute features comfortable apartments and a hearty food service on site. The campus itself is beautiful with a historic brick main building, log cabin cafeteria featuring individual great rooms for dining, meandering foot paths and easy walking access to Schoodic Point. After a day on the water you will be able to get back and relax with a nice meal, and maybe a beautiful sunset before hitting a warm bed.

It is our goal to provide an enriching experience. Our hope is you return home energized by what you see, learn and do at this retreat. With coaching staff to provide a safe and instructional time on the water, a free-form journey of exploring, skills learning, and active water play will be the itinerary each day. We will provide individualized instruction as desired to improve your ability to appreciate the experience. We work to allow you to use the skills you have, and develop new skills while sea kayaking in awesome surroundings. And at the end of the day, enjoy a relaxing debrief over a nice meal and drink. There will be suitable challenges available for all levels of kayakers from simply learning to navigate across a harbor to practicing seal landings in surging rock gardens. This will be super fun and fruitful break from routine in a magnificent setting.

Your Hosts:

Nick Schade sea kayaking

Nick Schade

has been kayaking for over 40 years. He started designing and building high performance wooden sea kayaks over 30 years ago specifically to enjoy the waters and coastline of Frenchman Bay and Schoodic. Nick brings a rich knowledge of how kayaks work and how they interact with the natural environment.

Through his company Guillemot Kayaks, Nick has spread his passion for kayaking and making kayaks to thousands of boat builders worldwide. While beautiful, these kayaks are built to use. Over the years, he has found that he can make wooden kayaks that are lighter and stronger than standard production composite boats.

Nick will bring a selection of his high performance wooden kayaks for the weekend for people to test and abuse. This is a great opportunity to experience how a high performance wooden kayak handles in the exact environment they were designed for.

Nick is a largely self-taught kayaker who has been bringing paddlers of all levels out onto the water for decades. He has written articles on sea kayaking techniques for the late great Sea Kayaker Magazine. He is a registered Maine Guide because thats needed for this kind of thing, but he is doing this for the love of kayaking.

Gerry Polinsky

Coming from a background of winter mountaineering and guiding, Gerry embraces the high adventure potential in sea kayak coaching. He takes advantage of his local waters, frequently paddling in rocks, surf and races.

Gerry started Sea Sherpa Kayak in 2009 and has continued to focus on his own certifications which now include ACA L5 Advanced Open Water InstructorBCU 5 Star Leader (now Advanced Sea Kayak Leader) and is a registered Maine Guide. He has completed multi day tours including the Bay Of Fundy, Baja, the entire outer coast of Vancouver Island and much of the Maine from mid coast to the Canadian border. His traveling instructional tour de force includes working on symposium and courses, all over the Northeast, Tybee Island, San Francisco, Baja and the Pacific Northwest.

Gerry prides himself on his coaching in active open water conditions, most especially, the work he has done introducing paddlers to their first taste of active paddling. He creates a drama free zone through an individualized approach and keeps the chest pounding to a minimum.

The Gerry & Nick Story:

Nick and Gerry having been frequent paddling partners in crime for the last decade: Rocks gardening, shore surf and working tide races. Their backgrounds couldn't be more different with Nick entirely (and uniquely) self-taught while Gerry is more "classically" trained by other coaches and following a certification progression. Their approaches, to both paddling and presentation are simultaneously contradictory and complimentary.


Gerry and Nick are very excited to have recruited some very able paddlers to assist, instruct, coach and lead with us during the retreat. 

Joey SchottJoey Schott got his start kayaking nearly twenty years ago while on vacation in Bar Harbor. He loved it so much that he started building kayaks as a hobby. In 2009 he became Sales Manager at Chesapeake Light Craft. It was Nick who introduced him to Rough Water Sea Kayaking and he has not been the same since.

Chesapeake Light Craft LogIn 2014 he branched out on his own by opening his shop, Turning Point Boatworks, specializing in custom builds of small boats in both wood and composite. (He is developing a composite Petrel Play!) He currently holds an ACA L4 Coastal kayaking instructor certification along with a rolling endorsement. He still considers himself a student of the sport, always learning and pushing his limits. With his experience at Chesapeake Light Craft Joey is very knowledgeable about wood kayaks. He will be bringing several kayaks from the CLC stable as well as his own work from Turning Point for participants to test paddle.

Kayaking Sullivan fallsBarb Todd has been an active water paddler for over 15 years. Her kayak adventures have brought to Nova Scotia, Baja California, Wales UK and Iceland as well as many, many locations along the eastern seaboard from Florida through to the Canadian border.

As a coach, Barb has worked alongside some of the most highly accredited "water gods". Events she has worked includes the Downeast Sea Kayak Symposium, the Mid Coast Rendezvous and the renowned Schoodic Retreat. She is a British Canoe Sea Kayak Leader, a Maine Guide - Sea Kayak and has taken discipline specific trainings in forward stroke, surf, rocks and ledges.

Barb is particularly good in leading sea kayakers in dynamic environments that they would otherwise find intimidating: Kind of a pied piper scenario. She loves paddling in active water and is happiest in current play.


Rockefeller Hall


Schoodic Institute is located on Big Moose Island which forms the headlands of Schoodic Peninsula. This former Navy station had apartments for officers and families which now serve as comfortable accommodations for Institute guests. 

The chefs at the Institute strive to cook with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Soups, dressings, sauces and baked goods are prepared from scratch daily. 

Special Dietary needs: The chefs are happy to accommodate the allergies and dietary restriction of the guests.


The price includes on the water instruction and guiding by Registered Maine Guides, 5 nights and 5 days stay at Schoodic Institute, meals provided (Monday breakfast through Saturday breakfast, bag lunches during the day and hearty dinner at night with a Deluxe Dinner one night:  option of lobster, steak or vegetarian). Arrive the afternoon of Sunday, September 15th to check in, on the water daily Monday through Friday and checking out Saturday the 21st. We can customize accomodations if desired, just ask.

More Information

For details about what you will need to enjoy the event, what kind of gear you will want, and more stuff about accomodations, please read our Schoodic Retreat Gear List and Other Information.

Registration & Deposit - This is a past event. Don't try to register.

To register and reserve your space at the retreat we request a 50% deposit. (Paddler: $675, Non-Paddler: $400)

More Information:

If you would like to register, or would like to receive more information, please click here.