Kayaking is a fun and exciting outdoor activity that offers a unique way to explore nature, exercise, and spend quality time with friends and family. However, getting in and out of a kayak can be challenging, especially for beginners. In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide to help you learn how to get in and out of a kayak safely and efficiently.
Choose the Right Location
Select a location with calm waters, like a lake or slow-moving river, to practice getting in and out of your kayak. Avoid strong currents, waves, and windy conditions until you become more comfortable with the process.
Look for a stable and level area to launch your kayak. A sandy or grassy shoreline is ideal, as it provides good traction and minimizes the risk of slipping.
Equipment and Preparation
Personal Floatation Device (PFD)
Always wear a properly fitted PFD while kayaking. It provides buoyancy in the water and offers additional support when entering and exiting the kayak.
Position your kayak parallel to the shoreline, with the bow facing outwards. Ensure the kayak is close enough to the water’s edge to minimize the distance you need to move.
Place your paddle across the kayak, behind the cockpit, with one blade on the shore and the other on the water. This will provide extra stability when getting in and out.
Getting In the Kayak
Stand over the kayak with your feet on either side of the cockpit. Lower yourself into the seat, keeping your weight centered and your knees bent. Once seated, slide your feet into the footrests and adjust the position for comfort.
Sit on the edge of the cockpit, facing the bow. Place your hands on either side of the kayak for support, and lift your legs, one at a time, over the side and into the cockpit. Shift your weight onto your bottom and scoot into the seat.
From the dock
If launching from a dock, position the kayak parallel to the edge with the cockpit close to the dock. Sit on the edge of the dock, and place your feet in the kayak. Hold onto the dock and carefully lower your body into the seat.
Getting Out of the Kayak
Paddle towards the shoreline, aiming for a gradual slope. As the kayak’s bow touches the shore, lean back slightly to lift the bow and glide further onto the beach. Once the kayak is stable, place your hands on the cockpit rim for support, and swing your legs out one at a time. Stand up and carefully step out of the kayak.
Reverse straddle method
With your kayak parallel to the shore, place your hands on the cockpit rim and lift your bottom out of the seat, keeping your weight centered. Swing your legs over the kayak’s sides, one at a time, and lower yourself onto the ground, maintaining a stable stance.
From the dock
Paddle your kayak parallel to the dock, positioning the cockpit close to the edge. Hold onto the dock for support, and lift one leg out of the kayak, placing it on the dock. Lean towards the dock, carefully lifting your other leg and transferring your weight onto the dock as you stand up.
Tips for Stability and Safety
- Keep a low center of gravity by bending your knees and maintaining a wide stance when getting in and out of the kayak.
- Use your paddle for additional support and stability.
- Practice your entry and exit techniques in shallow water or with a buddy nearby to assist if needed.
- Avoid sudden or jerky movements when entering or exiting the kayak, as this can cause the kayak to become unstable.
- Take your time and stay focused on each process step to ensure a smooth transition.
Related: How To Lock Up A Kayak?
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is getting in and out of a sit-on-top kayak easier than a sit-inside kayak?
Sit-on-top kayaks are generally easier to enter and exit, offering a more open and accessible cockpit. However, the techniques for getting in and out of both types of kayaks are similar.
What should I do if I tip over while trying to get in or out of my kayak?
If you capsize, stay calm and hold onto your paddle. Use the paddle to help you right the kayak or swim to the shoreline with your kayak in tow.
Can I use the same techniques for getting in and out of a tandem kayak?
The techniques are similar, but you must coordinate with your paddling partner. It’s best to have one person enter or exit the kayak simultaneously to maintain stability.
How can I improve my balance while getting in and out of a kayak?
Practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the better your balance and stability will become. Additionally, focusing on maintaining a low center of gravity and using your paddle for support can help improve balance.
Should I remove my gear and accessories from the kayak before getting in or out?
Removing your gear when entering or exiting the kayak is generally unnecessary, but make sure it’s secured and doesn’t interfere with your movement.
Learning how to get in and out of a kayak is essential for every kayaker. You can confidently and safely enjoy your kayaking adventures by choosing the right location, preparing your equipment, and following the techniques outlined in this article. Remember always to wear a PFD, practice your entry and exit methods, and maintain a focus on safety.