Getting In and Out

Getting in and out of Sea Kayaks Video

Getting in and out of sea kayaks can be tricky, especially on rough terrain. This episode of Sea Kayaking TV with
Ken Whiting and Alex Matthews looks at how to do just this.


Steps for Getting in and out of a Kayak

By Alex Matthews

With the right plan of action, getting into and out of a kayak is easy. And yet, for beginner paddlers, this is precisely the maneuver that is most likely to result in an unplanned dunking. To avoid unwanted swims when getting in or out of a kayak, the only real rule to follow is to "get your butt into the boat quickly". With your butt in the seat, your center of gravity will be low and you’ll feel nice and stable. It’s only the awkward transition between standing and sitting where trouble is likely to occur.

The easiest spots to get into and out of your kayak are beaches. On a nice sandy beach, you can hop into your boat with it resting at the edge of the water, and then just push yourself out with your hands once you’re ready. This method is particularly well suited to smooth beaches and plastic kayaks that stand up to rough treatment well. For more delicate boats like those made from composite materials like fiberglass, Kevlar® or carbon fiber, it’s much better to get into the kayak while it's floating. One of the best ways to do this is to use your paddle as an outrigger for stability.

With your kayak floating in a couple of inches of water, place you paddle at ninety degrees to the kayak with the shaft resting on the back of the boat just behind the cockpit, and the far blade supported on shore. Grasp both the paddle shaft and the cockpit rim behind your back, and squat down beside the kayak. Be sure to bend your knees deeply so that you can get into a good low squat beside the boat. Failing to bend your knees won't allow you to get your butt and your center of gravity low, and will compromise your stability. Next, leaning your weight lightly onto the outrigger for support, slip your legs into the boat and drop your butt into the seat.

This entry is also ideal for awkward or rocky launch sites where footing and balance are tricky, as the outrigger will greatly increase your stability during the crucial transition from shore to the seat of your boat.

When it's time to get back out of your kayak again, simply reverse the steps to exit.
  Getting In 1 Step 1

Getting In 2 Step 2

Getting In 3 Step 3

Getting In 4 Step 4

Photos ©2006 Alex Matthews  


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