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AUXPAD Operator Training


D5SR AUXPAD Operator Training: 2023

AUXPAD is the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s program to promote paddlecraft safety ashore and afloat. Similar to the boat crew program, AUXPAD Operators are trained to handle their craft safely and undertake missions under orders. Their training prepares them as safety ambassadors to the paddling community, where they promote safety on the water, and also through Vessel Safety Checks, Public Education, and Program Visitation.


Training at Pohick Bay, VA 2021


Group photo Galesville, MD, 2019

AUXPAD Operator On-Water Training Plans for 2023

We are offering AUXPAD on-the-water training in three locations this year. Each session will be taught by one or more AUXPAD Qualification Examiners (AQs) who are certified Coastal Kayaking Instructors with the American Canoe Association and separately qualified as instructors in the Auxiliary.

We continue to focus on safety both with respect to COVID-19 and on the water activities. The following training events are open to both AO trainees and those seeking annual re-certification.

June 2-4, Shadyside, MD (near Annapolis)

Lead Instructor/Ron Price AQ
Contact Wendy Norwitz AQ at

June 2-4, Kill Devil Hills NC (Albemarle Sound on the Outer Banks)

We have arranged a limited number of rooms for out-of-town participants. Each participant will have their own room in either a rented house or with a host family from our local flotilla. We request $300 to cover the entire stay from June 1-4.
Lead Instructor and Contact/Roland McDevitt AQ

June 16-18, Northern Virginia (Pohick Bay and Potomac River)

Lead Instructor and Contact/Joey Taguding AQ

To enroll in training or seek recertification, contact one of the instructors listed above.

Sample Training Plan (Details will vary in each location.)

AUXPAD Photo Album



 Check out our photos from AUXPAD training and related activities

AUXPAD Handbook, January 2023

The AUXPAD Handbook describes the program’s mission, scope, operational parameters and qualification requirements, and replaces the COMMANDANT INSTRUCTION 16794.11A which previously governed the program.

The new Handbook includes a Personal Qualification Standard (PQS) for AUXPAD Operator (PDLO). Qualification as PDLO requires much of the same training as coxswain or boat crew, including TCT/Risk Management, Surface Operations, Communications, and Navigation. In addition, specialized training is required to demonstrate American Canoe Association L2 Coastal Kayaking or River Kayaking skills.

Much of the training described in the PQS can be completed online or through training offered in your flotilla. Pre-requisites for on-water training are summarized in the PQS. Review the PQS carefully to assess what tasks you will need to complete

Recommended PFDs and PPE. 
The January AUXPAD Handbook specifies requirements in Section G Personal Protective Equipment. The Paddlecraft Safety Division has developed PPE Recommendations for PDLOs and Districts seeking to provide PPE to qualified PDLOs.

How to Prepare for an AUXPAD Patrol, May 15, 2023.  
This PDF from the May 22, 2023 Zoom seminar includes useful links to resources for patrol orders, reimbursement, facility management, uniforms, PPE. Click Here

Frequently Asked Questions

Communicate any questions to the contact person for your training session.

Resources to Prepare for AUXPAD Operator PQS

Surface Operations Workshop is required for 2023. This should be available locally from V-Train in late February, but you will need to complete this prior to June 30, 2023 in order to go on the water. Contact your FSO-Member Training for details.

Radio COMMUNICATIONS Workshop District 9E produced this excellent workshop on how to use a radio and communicate with the station in a professional manner (PQS tasks: BCM-05-01-AUX and BCM-05-02-AUX). It will help you prepare to demonstrate communication skills to your mentor or AE.  The following documents will assist you in learning these skills -

Handouts for the Communications Workshop - 

                  AUXPAD Radio Sample Comms

                  Phonetic Alphabet and Numerals 

                  Pro words and Acronyms

                  Questions we ask people in distress!

                  Radio Comms Practice Sheet

Administrative Tasks, including how to request and report a patrol are addressed in the Patrol Order Users Guide PowerPoint at this link to the AUXDATA II Training Resources site.

Paula Hubbard’s Tutorials on kayak navigation, weather, tides & currents, and self-rescue are excellent. Her step-by-step explanation of the paddle float self-rescue is particularly helpful.

Other Resources

Many of the skills we cover in on-the-water training are demonstrated in the videos listed below. Some of these videos show conditions far more challenging than we face in training, and some are more advanced than we teach. Our training takes place in wind no greater than 10 knots and waves no greater than 1 foot. Training with a qualified instructor is the best way to learn these skills, but you can also learn a great deal here. partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard to produce these short safety videos for new paddlers.

Assisted Rescue using the Heel Hook method.  This video demonstrates one way to help a capsized paddler back into a sea kayak.  Note the discussion in the comments that suggest improvements in the demonstrated technique. 

Situational Awareness: This 30 second clip shows me paddling home to avoid an approaching storm. I was clueless about the waterspout over my right shoulder…needed a better stern watch.

The Navigation Rules Exam: How to prepare for the Nav95 Exam 

Kayak Navigation Workshop with Paula Hubbard: This one hour webcast by Paula Hubbard discusses the practical skills needed to navigate a kayak on open water without the aid of electronic gear.

Cross Current Sea Kayaking provides high quality sea kayaking instruction to paddlers at all ability levels. Courses are conducted throughout the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic coast. ACA instructor development programs are also offered. Check out the Coastbusters newsletter and other resources on this site.

Tom Nickels of Riverwind Kayak is an ACA Instructor Trainer who has worked closely with us in recent years to improve our paddling and teaching skills. His website includes brief instructional videos and other great resources.

Rescue for River Runners has a series of videos covering everything from basic preparation and group management to advanced swift water rescue. The presenter, Jim Coffey, is one of the best paddling instructors in the world.

Perfecting the Forward Stroke is a kayak racing video that demonstrates the extent of torso and lower body movement on a power stroke. These movements may be less pronounced in paddling a touring kayak, but the mechanics are very similar and the racing kayak allows us to view the paddlers’ upper and lower body.