How To Launch A Kayak

Getting in and out of a kayak may seem like an easy task, but it can actually be more difficult than you might have thought. When you are out and about in your kayak things are pretty much straightforward when you know what you are doing, but getting inside it in the first place can prove to be much trickier.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really a graceful way to get in and out of a kayak, but the more that your practice, the better you will get at it. This is something that will get easier over time if you keep at it.

In this article, we are going to tell you the best ways in which to launch a kayak, depending on where you are launching it from. We will also provide you with some helpful tips, tricks and methods along the way to ensure that you are as prepared as possible for launching your kayak.

Types of Kayak Launches

When it comes to launching a kayak, more often than not, you will be launching from either a shoreline or a dock. For shoreline launches, you will typically need to straddle the boat before you sit in it.

For dock launches, you will need to work hard to maintain balance as you slide your feet and body into the kayak. These are the two most common types of launches, and we are going to tell you exactly how you can successfully complete the process below.

Launching from Shore

There are ways to ensure the highest possible chances of success when it comes to launching on the beach, and the key to doing so is to place your kayak so that it is perpendicular to the shoreline. This will mean that the front half of the kayak will be in the water, and the back half will be on the sand. 

If you don’t do this, and your kayak is solely on the sand when you get inside it, you are not going to be able to push off into the water. This might sound like an obvious point, but it might be helpful to know for first-timers. You don’t want to end up beached and having to get back out of the kayak to readjust your position. 

You will need to carry the boat to your put-in point and set it down in shallow water so that it is perpendicular to the shoreline, as mentioned above.

If you are launching into a river, you may want to consider a parallel launch, depending on the circumstances you are facing. When it comes to the perpendicular launch, the bow should be facing away from the shore, and the stern should be close to the shore and fully afloat.

To get into the kayak, you will need to straddle it just behind the rim of the cockpit and sit down on the back of the cockpit.

Next you should bring your feet into the cockpit one at a time. You should then be able to straighten your legs and slide forward into the seat. If you have a sit on top kayak, then you only need to bring your legs in and set off on your adventure.

Launching From a Dock

Alternatively, if you need to launch from a dock, the process will be slightly different. One of the best ways to do so would be to ask someone to hold your kayak steady while you get into it. If you are on your own, this might not always be possible, so you will need to start by positioning the kayak so that it is parallel to the dock.

Ideally, this point should be the lowest and closest to the water. You should then sit down next to the kayak on the dock and put your feet into the cockpit. Once you are in position, you can turn your body towards the bow of the boat while you are still in a sitting position. Next, you will be able to quickly and steadily lower yourself into the kayak.

You will need to try and keep your weight as low as you can while you are doing this, and make sure that you have a strong hold on the dock through the process. Something that is also worth noting is that when it comes to getting out at a dock you will need to follow the above steps in reverse order.

Launching at a Rocky or Uneven Shoreline

When you are on a rocky or uneven shoreline, you will need to use your paddle to help stabilize you while you are getting into your boat.

You should line up your kayak so that it is parallel to the shoreline, and then set your paddle to be perpendicular to your boat across the stern side of the cockpit. This will mean that half of the paddle will cross the boat, and the other half will be on the shore.

To get into the kayak, you should sit on the shore positioned to the front of the paddle, and put your feet into the kayak. Make sure that you are holding the paddle with your hands roughly shoulder width apart behind you.

Don't forget to make sure that the paddle is on the shore side of you, and when it feels stable, press into the paddle and quickly shift into the seat. Make sure that you keep your weight low when you move.

How to Sit in a Kayak

If you want to be comfortable and support good posture, you will need to sit properly in your kayak. To do this, you should position the backrest so that it is upright. When you're sitting correctly, your abdominal muscles will work to help you sit right.

You will need to sit down with your chest lifted and ensure that your head is balanced. If you are sitting right, then the balls of your feet should press against the foot pedals and your knees should be facing outwards. 

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