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How to Safely Get In and Out of Your Kayak

Getting in and out of your kayak can be tricky, especially for beginners. Whether it’s a sand or gravel beach, a dock or rocky shoreline, there are great techniques to safely launch and land your boat. Expert kayaking instructor Ken Whiting shows you how to safely get in and out of your kayak.

An ideal spot to launch is a quiet, sandy beach. In the edge of the water, just sit in the boat and use your hands to push yourself out into the deeps. If you have a fiberglass or composite kayak that you might damage by sliding it across the sand, move it out until it’s floating in a few inches of water. Then, straddle the boat, lower yourself into the cockpit and paddle away.

If you’re entering your boat from a dock, pick the lowest spot; the farther the boat is from the top of the dock, the trickier it is to enter the boat. Place your boat parallel to the dock and sit down with your feet in the cockpit. While facing the bow and holding firmly to the dock, lower yourself decisively into the seat. Make sure your paddle is close,so you reach it after getting seated. Getting out of the kayak is as simple as reversing the above steps. Having someone help stabilize your boat will make these maneuvers easier. They can help, either from the dock, or from a boat in the water.

Another situation you may find yourself in is having to enter or exit your boat from a rocky shore. A great assist is to use your paddle as a stabilizing outrigger. With the kayak parallel to shore, place the paddle behind the cockpit with one paddle blade resting on the rocks. Grasp the paddle with both hands, behind your back, and slide your butt into the seat. You can get out of the boat the same way.