How To Get In And Out Of A Kayak. A Getting Started Guide

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If you are a fan of outdoor activities and love the waters, then kayaking might become your next favorite leisure activity. Navigating the raging water with prowess is a nerve wrecking yet a thrilling adventure.Though fun and enjoyable, kayaking can be intimidating at the beginning especially when it comes to getting on and off the kayak. Nevertheless, with proper technique, you might have a breeze getting in and out of the kayak regardless of whether on a shoreline or dock. Here are some tips that might improve your kayaking landing skills:

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Launching A Kayak

Before getting to enjoy a kayaking expedition, you need to lift your kayak on shore. Generally, plastic kayaks weigh around 60 plus pounds. With such weight in mind, safety is of paramount importance. Position yourself next to the cockpit.

Slowly tip the boat away in the opposite direction from where you are standing. While standing close to the boat and let it rock back against one of your knees. Gently reach down and lift the boat up higher on that knee, about thigh-high.

Place one arm inside the cockpit until your shoulder is completely covered under the combing. Remember to keep your back straight will stand up. Now use your legs to get in an upright position. While on shore, follow the reverse of these steps to set your kayak down.

Choosing The Right Spot To Launch And Exit Your Kayak

The first trick to a successful kayaking experience is choosing the right place to dock. If you have a good place to launch and land, getting in and out of your kayak won’t be so difficult. But if you choose a wrong spot, you stand to topple over every time you try to either get in or out. Here are some areas you can try getting in and out of your kayak:

Kayaking from shore – best for first timers

With summer fast approaching, a majority of us want to enjoy nature at its best on the beach. Instead of the regular water ski and surfing why not try something edgier – Kayaking. Well, kayaking from the shore is the easiest especially if it is your first time trying it out. All you need to do is enter into the kayak from the sandy shores.

Afterward, steadily launch yourself out into the waters with your hands when ready. This type of technique is best suited for smooth shorelines and plastic kayaks that can withstand rough treatment. Delicate ones such as fiberglass, carbon fiber kayaks are much better to get into while it’s floating on water.

One great way of doing this is by using your paddle as a beam for stability. It will prevent your boat from capsizing while trying to get on board. Repeat the same when exiting the kayak. With continuous practice, you slowly graduate from the shoreline and are now ready to try something a bit challenging like launch yourself from the docks.

Kayaking from the dock

If you are trying to launch your kayak from the dock, it is wise to get in from the lowest point of the dock. Begin by positioning your kayak at par with the dock and then sit down on the dock next to the kayak seat.

Slowly put your legs on the kayak seat with your body facing the bow. While both hands are holding on to the dock, lower yourself carefully for better positioning. The secret is getting seated as quickly as possible to avoid toppling over.

Ensure that your paddle is close enough for easy reach once sitting on the kayak. The procedure for getting off the dock is simply the reverse of the former. You need to lean on the dock and pull your legs off the cockpit. Keep your body low as you slide your feet of the kayak. Soon after, pull yourself on the dock to complete your kayak exit. In both cases, it is wise to have a helping hand that will hold on to your kayak as you try getting on and off.

Kayaking on uneven shoreline

Rocky shorelines can be tricky when launching yourself in and out of the kayak and can be dangerous if attempted when inexperienced. It is best to get in shallow waters where the current is low. In my experience, it wise to use your paddle for stability. Begin by aligning your kayak parallel to the shore with the paddle perpendicular to the boat.

Position the paddle with the shaft resting on the back of the cockpit and the two far blades supported by water currents. Hold both the cockpit rim and the paddle shaft behind your back, and squat down slowly beside the boat. Remember it is important to keep your center of gravity low when entering and exiting a kayak.

This act helps in stability and avoiding capsizing while trying to enter or leave the boat. Finally, incline your weight lightly onto the outrigger for stability, then slip your legs into the boat and drop into the seat. Once done kayaking you can do the reverse as an exit plan.

Other Tips For A Comfortable Kayaking Experience

Attach a sprayskirt on to the cockpits combing

A sprayskirt or spraydeck is a flexible cover for a kayak that prevents water from entering the kayak while allowing you to sit in the boat while rowing.

To Attach The Sprayskirt:

Once safely seated in the cockpit, stretch back and attach the skirt to the rearmost of the cockpit’s combing. While leaning forward, run your fingers along the skirt’s ends and wrap front part over the front edge of the combing. Attached the skirt’s sides onto the combing. Remember to keep the skirt’s grab loop outside the cockpit and in front of you for easier grasping when needed.

Have the right sitting posture when on a kayak

To keep yourself seated comfortably with your back healthy positioned, you’ll need to use proper posture. Place the backrest upright so that you get to sit up straight. If seated properly, you will use your abdominal muscles for upright posture, with the backrest helping you to keep in this position. It is best to sit with your head balanced and chest lifted, with none of them sticking out forward.

In this position, the balls of your feet should squeeze firmly against the foot pedals and your legs will rotate externally with your knees out. This type of open position of the feet makes it more comfortable to sit in an upright position and relieves your lower back.

If you experience discomfort or pain in your lower abdomen during or after kayaking, it may be because your hamstrings and hips are tightly fastened. Try some of the great paddling stretches that you can do before or after kayaking. They increase your muscles flexibility and make your outings comfortable during and after kayaking.

Stay in control of your paddle and kayak

No one wants their kayak and paddle to float away while they are flailing around in the water. If you are finding it difficult to get in or out of your kayak, just make sure you hang on to your items so that they don’t float away. Always have a firm grip on your kayak while keeping it in low-current, shallow waters when getting on and off the kayak and not forgetting your paddle! Always wear a good fitting pfd.

Keep on practicing to perfect your kayaking experience…

​Paddling Off…

Once comfortably seated in the kayak, it’s time to start paddling. If you are still afraid of trying out the open water, you can always kayak by pushing the boat into the very shallow water as an initial anchoring method. You can later practice your paddle skills until you feel comfortable enough to set out of the shore into the deep blue.

The usual stroke is the forward stroke, and it is very simple to learn. You begin by placing your right paddling blade in the water next to your feet, at a right angle. Rotate your chest to the right in order to use your whole upper body for a more powerful stroke.

Remember to keep your right hand firmly gripped while loosening your left hand. Now pull back with your right arm and push with your left. Don’t forget to utilize your whole torso and not just your arm. Repeat the same with the left side, and so on and so forth.

Over time you will develop a good rhythm. It might take a while before getting used to the process of entering and exiting your kayak. The key is to be patient knowing that it gets easier with time and more practice. If you are experiencing troubles, pay close attention to the position of your body – most likely your balance is off.


Hope these simple steps will help enhance your kayaking experience. Kayaking is amazing if done the right way. The hardest part can be getting in and out of the kayak especially if not anchored properly. You may risk toppling or capsizing over. For better stability, it is wise to have a friend around who will hold on to the kayak when getting in or exiting the kayak. This is crucial especially if you are a first-time kayaker.

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