@2018 Robert Aylesworth

bobaylesworthoutdoors@gmail.com             WIndsor, Ontario Canada


Carrying, Launching, Entering, Landing and Exiting a Kayak

Getting your kayak in and out of the water, then getting yourself in and out of a kayak can be any where from easy to very challenging depending on a number of things. Some of the variables include: Stability of boat, size of cockpit, size and ability of paddler, type of shoreline, contour of bottom, and any waves or currents.

This section has links to a number of videos showing some of the possibilities.

Lets start with a video that illustrates some techniques suitable for an ORCKA Flatwater course. First it talks about moving the boat to and then into the water. Then it shows a few ways to get in and out of the kayak in different conditions.

If you are able to get your legs into the cockpit while you are siting in the seat then you have a lot of options getting in and out of the boat. One of the methods demonstrated here is what I call the bum drop. It works in a wide variety of conditions including deeper water. If you can not get your legs in and out with your bum in the seat then you will need to sit on the back deck, put your legs in and then slide into the seat.

This video covers a lot of material for such a short clip, so you might be interested in some of the following videos as well.

Click on the "YouTube" to enlarge.

This video posted by Coast & Kayak Magazine shows more detail on the Side Entry method. Note that he sits on the back deck before putting the legs in. DO NOT put one foot in the boat while you are standing!

I must mention that when using the paddle as an outrigger he places his outer hand a bit too far from the boat. If you press too hard on it this can easily break a high end paddle (like the one he is using). On the other hand, placing your hand close to the boat can put stress on your shoulder. So, use a cheap, strong paddle until you can do this smoothly. The key to this is to move from supporting yourself on your feet to having your bum in the seat as quickly as possible. The support on the paddle provides stability while you are between the two positions.

This video shows a different method to enter (and exit) from a low dock. It is a slightly modified version of the side entry. It differs from the method we demonstrated in the ORCKA safe kayaking video.

I always encourage people to try different methods, this one may work for you if the dock is nearly the same height as the dock. (Be aware that this method puts a lot of stress on the shoulders. I guess that is not a problem for strong, young, skinny folks.)

This video features ACA Instructor Trainer Mike Aronoff. It has a good demonstration of a straddle entry. This technique requires you to be able to stand with one leg on each side of the boat, which is fine as long as the boat is not too wide or the water too deep. It then demonstrates what I call a low dock entry.


This video starts with a segment on spray skirts. It is very good information, but you should not be wearing a tight spray skirt like that until you have practiced doing a wet exit. Note that the young man doing the dock entry has a loose fabric skirt on. This skirt will pop off very easily, so it would not be as much of an issue for beginners.

And now for something completely different! This video from the folks at Pelican not only shows some different launching techniques, it has some other important comments on things like footwear.

Pelican makes a lot of "rec boats". These are short, fat kayaks officially referred to as "Recreational Kayaks" (as if the others are not fun!). The width makes some ways of entering difficult, but the stability opens other possibilities.

I noticed that at one point the narrator instructs us to sit on the back deck but the demonstrator sits directly in the seat. Good choice. High seat backs like that make entering from the back deck awkward.

The guy getting into the yellow boat does a very interesting "layout and roll". I have only seen that once before. I will need to try it before commenting.

James and Dympna at Ontario Sea Kayak Center made this video showing some of the same techniques as the first.


James demonstrates a straddle entry in shallow water using a paddle for stability. Remember, while doing this you need to keep your weight slightly over towards the paddle. You only have support on one side!

Dympna then shows the dock entry and exit. They also introduce the idea of getting help from a fellow paddler, which is an option often overlooked by instructors. Even if you are the last to launch someone already in their kayak can come alongside and lean across your boat to help steady it.

Ray Wirth shows some very smooth moves here.

He refers to the straddle entry as the cowboy. An nice touch is the way he leans back and uses his hand to pull his knee in. I would also like you to notice that when getting out he twists his torso and uses one arm to boost himself. This is much more shoulder safe than the typical two arm lift.

He also does a great job demonstrating the side saddle exit. This is one of my favourite methods and he demonstrates it very well.

Here is a video with some interesting ideas about launching a landing at a tall dock.

I have often done this without the use of the rope, but I can see how the rope could be useful. If there is no help available I slide the boat in and out while holding onto the bow. I still think that is better with a loaded boat.

I am also concerned about the location of the paddle during the demonstrations. It needs to be kept out of the way for the safety of both the paddler and the paddle.