Monday, September 7, 2009

Deep Water Re-Entry

One of the things that concerned me the most when we moved from kayaking in small creeks to kayaking in large rivers, was the issue of re-mounting the kayak if for some reason I should be tipped out of it. Now, I have to admit that our kayaks are remarkably stable. In all the years we have been kayaking, we have only had one capsize and that was because, unknown to us, the boat was taking water in the hull. Otherwise, they seem amazingly able to compensate for the waves and wakes on the water and for our movement as well.

Still, the thought of being out on a large river and out of your boat was a little disconcerting. However, when using a self-baling, sit-on-top kayak, re-entry is not a difficult maneuver. This is made even easier if you are wearing --and you should be -- a properly fitting and properly buoyant personal flotation device.

Thanks to the folks at, here is how to re-enter your kayak from deep water:

  1. If you don't have a paddle leash, put your paddle across the end of your boat. With your kayak right side up, reach for the far side of the cockpit with one hand.
  2. Reach for the near side of the cockpit with the other hand.
  3. Flutter kick your feet and using a motion similar to how you get out of a swimming pool, onto the side of the pool, pull yourself across the boat. You may feel the boat tip some toward you, this is fine, this helps you to get into the boat.
  4. When your belly is in the boat and your hips are past the side of the boat, roll over so that you are sitting side-saddle in the boat.
  5. Now simply pull your legs into your boat and you are ready to go.
Practice Deep Water Re-Entry in water that is deep enough to be over your head, but close enough to shore so that if you needed to you could easily swim to safety. Don't paddle out far in the water until you have learned these steps and feel comfortable with them. It is one of the most important things you can learn about kayak safety.

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