Whether you’re fishing or touring, kayaking is a fantastic way to explore rivers, lakes or coastal waterways. And while getting on the water is the desired outcome, getting into the kayak is the first hurdle to overcome.
No worries! Here at Adventures Pursuit, we’ve put together this handy step-by-step guide to show you how to get into your kayak with style (and perhaps a little grace).
Getting into a kayak can be a bit more tricky than perhaps any other boat. There are 2 basic varieties of kayaks: sit-on-top and those with a cockpit. The sit-on-top are wider and typically more stable. Getting in a sit-on-top kayak is pretty straight forward and for the sake of this guide, we’ll focus on the cockpit variety of kayaks.
Here’s the good news. With a little practice and some confidence, you’ll be looking like a veteran in no time flat.
Here’s your step-by-step guide to getting into your kayak with ease.
From A Sandy Shoreline or Beach
This is perhaps one of the easiest areas to get into (and even out of) your kayak. Whether you are paddling alone or with others, a sandy shoreline provides an easy transition.
If there are multiple people setting out together, place the kayak at the water’s edge with the bow (front) of the kayak extending into the water. Have your partner hold the stern (rear) of the boat to stabilize it while you enter the cockpit. You can choose to straddle the kayak sitting just behind the cockpit or sitting with both legs on the same side of the kayak. You can step directly into the kayak but this often transfers the damp substrate to the seat of the kayak. Place your legs into the cockpit while you slide into the boat until seated.
If paddling alone, the premise remains the same though your paddle will become the stabilizing factor. Sitting at the back of the cockpit, place your paddle directly behind you and perpendicular to the kayak with one of the blades on the beach. Again, sitting with both legs on one side or straddling the cockpit. Using the pressure applied to the paddle to stabilize the kayak, enter the cockpit as above while continuing to balance the boat until seated.
This method also works well if entering the water from a boat ramp. However, it’s best to only do this if utilizing plastic hull kayaks as composite shells will be damaged on rough surfaces like concrete and rock.
From A Rocky Shoreline
As you can’t place your kayak perpendicular to the water with the bow in the water due to the uneven surface, this can be a bit trickier but still manageable with a little effort.
Line up your kayak parallel to the water with your paddle placed perpendicular to the shoreline directly behind the cockpit. Make sure to align the paddle so that the centerpoint of the paddle is directly behind the center of the cockpit with one blade making contact with the shore. While sitting on the shore, place your feet into the cockpit while putting pressure on the paddle. With your feet in the boat and your hands roughly shoulder width apart on the paddle, press into the shaft of the paddle and quickly transfer your butt from the shore into the seat. Remember to keep your weight low.
From A Dock (Floating or Stationary)
As with all entries, this is best accomplished with the aid of another person. However, if you’re alone, line the kayak up parallel to the dock. If possible, find a location that is closest to the water. This is easier to do with a floating dock especially if tidal change is a factor.
Sit down on the dock with your feet dangling over the edge and place them into the cockpit. While holding onto the dock (a boat cleat is often a good option), and facing the front of your kayak, quickly lower your body into the seat of the cockpit. It’s important to keep your center of gravity low.
If you ever flip over on the water, this can be a real possibility. However, this is a beginner guide and that maneuver is best left to another post as it requires some practice and skill.
Other Things To Consider Paddle
Keep your paddle close. Nothing can ruin a smooth entry into your kayak only to realize that your paddle is out of reach.
Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
This may be the single most important piece of gear. Check your state’s regulations as most consider kayaks to be “vessels” and are therefore bound by the same laws that govern all boats. Laws aside, it’s just a smart boating practice to adhere to for your own safety.
Pack Your Kayak Before Getting In
Like the paddle scenario, realizing that you forgot your dry bag, phone, snacks and beverages, can be frustrating. Once you have your kayak at the water’s edge, stow all of your additional items onboard before placing the kayak in the water.
Remember to apply liberal amounts of sunscreen for a day on the water. Sunburn is the gift that keeps on giving. Also, consider wearing a large brimmed hat to protect your face and neck.