How do you get in and out of a kayak?

Everybody’s got to start somewhere and knowing how to get in and out of a kayak can be really tricky, especially if you’re a total kayaking novice. In this article, we’ll look at the different ways you can get in and out of the kayak, whether you’re onshore or already in the water, as well as what you should be aware of if you want to stay safe.

Getting into a kayak

When entering the kayak, what you’ll be best doing is sitting on the edge of it with your legs still in the water. This can be a little tricky to get right as too much pressure can tip and kayak and end with you soaking wet and a little annoyed. Position yourself in the middle and slowly swing your bum back, being careful not to cause too much movement.

If this is proving difficult there are some different things for you to try and it might take a few tries to find the method that works best for you. One of the key things to be aware of is that you should take care to place the paddle in the right place and use it to help balance you, not placing it too far forward or backward.

There’s also a knack for the maneuver to get your bum into the kayak. This can be quite tricky but once you can find the right wiggling motion that doesn’t cause the kayak to move too much, you should have a much easier time entering. Even seasoned kayakers can have a bit of trouble here so don’t feel and if it doesn’t come naturally.

If you’ve given these tips and nothing seems to be working, just ask for some help. If you’re out with a buddy, which we’d recommend to any beginner, ask them to hold the kayak still and keep it at a level position just until you’ve got your bum in. If you decide to go it alone, nearby paddlers will likely be more than happy to help a beginner out.

Once you’re in, it’s time to start paddling. This is a completely different beast to tackle altogether but you’ll get there with practice. What we can say is that when it comes to paddling take care not to shift your body weight too much when you first enter as it can be harder to adjust yourself once you’re in without tipping your kayak over.

Getting out of a kayak

Once you’ve had your fun and you’ve decided to exit the kayak, you’ll need to find a way to safely get out without ending up neck-deep in the water. As with the entry, there are a couple of different methods so it’s often a case of finding what works best for you as different paddlers will have different bodies and kayaks.

If you find yourself closer to shore and are in much shallower water, exiting the kayak is a lot easier and is just a case of swinging your legs out and standing up. This is the easier method but doing so in shallower water does run the risk of the kayak hitting rocks close to shore and potentially causing damage to the underside and the fin.

Things are a little tricker when you’re in deeper water and need to get out of the kayak, for whatever reason. The closer you can get to the shallows the better as being able to get your feet on the sand/rocks will make for a much safer and more elegant exit. The idea here is the same, swinging your legs over to the side and shimmying your bum out.

Some kayakers prefer to exit their craft in slightly deeper water as it proves the opportunity to be in the water and reduces the risk of the kayak hitting rocks and causing damage. When doing this you should be aware that the depth can vary so you should always make sure you wear a buoyancy aid and wear the appropriate footwear.

Kayaking entry/exit safety tips 

There are a couple of things you should keep in mind when getting in and out of a kayak, whether you’re onshore or already in the water. 

You should always be aware of your surroundings and have knowledge of the closer entry and exit points in case something happens and you find yourself in trouble. Additionally, keep an eye out for anything that could cause your kayak to tip over and result in you having an unexpected swim – this can cause cold-water shock.

Always make sure to use your support network or ask those nearby for help if you find yourself having a bit of trouble. There’s no shame in admitting that you’re finding something difficult and because kayaking is such a wide-reaching and inclusive community, other paddlers will usually be more than happy to lend a helping hand.

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