Launching a Kayak
- Stand at the cockpit.
- Tip the boat away from you.
- Stand close to the boat and let it rock back against one knee.
- Reach down and hoist the boat up higher on that leg, about thigh-high.
- Put one arm inside the cockpit until your shoulder is under the combing.
- Keep your back straight and stand up. Use your legs to stand.
To set a boat down, perform these steps in reverse order.
Getting a Kayak In and Out of Water
Putting a Plastic Boat IN from a Dock (when Solo)
- Pick up the boat using the grab handle at the stern (rear of the boat) as well as under the rudder area.
- Aim the bow (front of the boat) toward the water.
- Use your legs to lift the boat and slide it into the water.
- If a cleat is available, slide the hull against it to guide the boat on a straight line. Just be careful not to snag the rudder.
- If your boat starts drifting away after you release it, use your paddle to keep it close.
Note: If your boat has a composite hull (fiberglass, Kevlar), seek the help of a friend or fellow boater to hand-place your boat in the water. This will help to avoid scratches.
Taking a Plastic Boat OUT at a Dock (when Solo)
- Place your paddle in the boat's cockpit. If the boat starts to drift, grab the paddle and use it corral the boat.
- At the stern, grip the boat's grab handle.
- Reach your hand under the rudder to protect the rudder from scrapping when you lift the boat.
- Use your legs to simultaneously stand and lift the boat.
- Use a cleat (if available, and if your boat is plastic) as a guide as you pull the boat out.
Entering and Exiting a Kayak
Entering from a Dock
If a dock is equipped with cleats (tie-off points), it's fine to use one as a handhold.
- Place your paddle perpendicular to the boat. Use it to snag your boat if it starts drifting away.
- Approach the boat with your body low and close to the boat. Do not step into it from an upright position (unless you happen to be filming a comedy video).
- Initially keep as much of your body on the dock as possible.
- With most of your body still on the dock, place your feet into the cockpit first.
- Staying low, slowly lower the rest of your body into the boat.
Exiting to a Dock
- Pull close to the dock (and a cleat, if one is available).
- Lean up against the dock and pull your knees out of the cockpit.
- While keeping your body low, slide your legs out of the boat.
- Pull yourself up and sit on the dock.
Entering While on a Beach (with a Partner)
- Using a plastic boat? Place the cockpit at water's edge, with the bow in the water and the stern on the beach. Composite boat? To avoid scratching the hull, position the cockpit a little farther out in the water. This means your feet will likely get wet during entry.
- Your partner straddles the stern and uses both hands to stabilize the boat.
- You step into the cockpit and slip into a seated position.
- You adjust your spray skirt (with help from your partner as needed).
- Your partner gives you a push into the water.
Entering While on a Beach (when Solo)
- Using a plastic boat? Place the cockpit at water's edge. Composite boat? To avoid scratching the hull, position the cockpit a little farther out in the water.
- Hold your paddle behind you with both hands, with the paddle shaft perpendicular to the boat. The spoon side of the paddle should be face-up.
- Use 1 hand to do 2 things: Hold the paddle's shaft at its midpoint behind the cockpit while simultaneously gripping the back edge of the cockpit's combing (outer edge).
- Tilt the paddle so one blade rests on the beach. (Or, if in a composite boat, set a blade on a firm foundation just below the water's surface.)
- Keep your weight over the paddle. (It's OK to sit on the shaft as you enter the cockpit.)
- Place your feet in the boat, then slide your legs in. Use the paddle as a stabilizing brace.
- Attach your spray skirt, keeping its grab loop outside of the cockpit and in front of you.
- Bring the paddle in front of you.
- Use both hands to push the boat into the water:
- With 1 hand, place the paddle blade-down into the sand and push.
- With the other hand, make a fist, push it into the beach and drive the boat into the water. Use your hips to add extra forward thrust.
- Once clear of the beach, start paddling.
Attaching a Spray Skirt
- Once settled into the cockpit, lean back and attach skirt to the rear of the cockpit's combing.
- Lean forward, run your fingers along the skirt's edges and wrap front of it over the front edge of the combing.
- Pop the sides of the skirt onto the combing.
- Make sure the skirt's grab loop is outside the cockpit and in front of you so it can easily be grasped if needed.