How to Re-Enter a Sit-Inside Kayak
There are a number of ways to get back aboard your kayak if you go for a swim. In this video kayak instructor Ken Whiting covers different techniques that can be used when there’s another paddler available to lend an assist. They can stabilize your kayak while you scramble back inside, and they can actually scoop you back upright if you're too tired or injured to climb back onto the boat.
If your boat is upside down, the first order of business is to flip it back upright. Do this quickly, in one smooth motion, to minimize water entry. With the kayak upright, the assisting partner can quickly move in to stabilize the boat. This is a committing act and proper technique is needed to avoid having two swimmers!
The partner wants to place their body at the bow of the swimmer’s kayak. They will lean over and solidly grasp the bow with both hands. The flotation of both boats and the anchoring of the partner provides a stable platform for the swimmer.
Now it’s the swimmer’s turn to complete the re-entry. Reach over and grasp the cockpit rim. Let your legs float up to the surface, then pulling with your arms and kicking with your feet, pull your chest onto the back deck. Turn to face the stern, slide your legs inside the boat and corkscrew your body into the seat.
There’ll be some water inside the boat, so the partner can continue holding onto the boat while the swimmer removes the water with a bilge pump. As an alternative to an assist, if the boat is close to shore, the swimmer can tow it ashore to empty out the water.
If the swimmer is too tired, or possibly injured, to climb back in the kayak, the scoop rescue may be necessary. The partner holds the swimmer’s boat up on its side. The swimmer floats into the cockpit and leans back to lower their center-of-gravity while the partner uprights the kayak. There’ll be a lot of water inside the boat, making it very unstable, so it’s important to keep stabilizing it while the water is pumped out.