best way to enter /exit kayak

Although I've been kayaking for awhile, I have never been in a situation where I'm entering/ exiting from any other place but a boat launch or beach type area. I use these places to stablize the kayak, enter and then a couple of good pushes with the paddle and I'm off. Soon I will be doing some small rivers and canals. These places  can be direct entry into knee high water.......Need instruction for this type of entry/ exits......Thanks Mikeb.......    By the way, still looking to hear from anyone in Bucks co., Phila., etc, maybe near Lake Galena (Peace Valley Park), who wants to do a couple of hrs of paddling. MB

I have two ways

– Last Updated: May-26-06 7:17 AM EST –

1. Stand beside the cockpit, (say from the right side).
-put left hand on left side of cockpit and right hand on right side of cockpit, but closer to the back .
- Pick up left leg and keeping balance on the right leg and two arms, slide it into the the kayak while bringing your butt over the seat.
- When the leg is in position drop your butt into the seat. Now your balance should not be on the other leg any more, but on the kayak.
Then you just bring your right leg up and bend the knee and bring it in the kayak.
I have bone on bone in my left knee, and it is hard to bend that knee, so I always do it from the right side so I don't have to bend the left leg, but it works with eitherside.

2. Just straddle the kayak cockpit and drop your butt into the seat and then bend each leg to get them in.

I can do the above methods with my 21" wide QCC-700, my Perception Eclipse and naturally my little bathtub rec boat.

Do it slow the first few times till you work out the balance, and you will see how easy it is.

(might not work if you are a big person. I am 5'-9" and 160 pounds)


Entering and exiting a kayak
I find myself often at locations that just are not condusive to launching from a beach, so I frequently step into my kayak from knee deep water. Its not to difficult. I am 50, at 6’2" and my kayak has a 31 inch cockpit. Not terribly small, but seems that way some times. My kayak is a Solstice from CD. Any way, I stick the paddle in the bungies opposite side that I am entering. Then I position myself at or slightly rear of the cockpit. While holding the coming, I swing my right leg into the boat and sit on the rear deck. When I am sure of my balance, I bring my left leg up into the cockpit and slide down into the seat in on purposeful movement. This may take some practice. Then I reach for the paddle and I am set. Getting out is a little more difficult for me because my cockpit size is to small for me to just lift my leg out. So again I place my paddle in the bungies. I reach behind me and lift myself up slightly to where I can pull my left leg up and out. I step out to the left, positioning my center of gravity over my leg, so that the kayak doesn’t decide that I need a lesson in doing the spilts. Very humbling at a crowded landing. Once firmly on your left leg pull the other leg out. I find that water at knee deep or slight deeper is alittle easier to get in and out of. If I do it in water to shallow, I find it some what difficult to either sit down or to stand up in such an awkward position. I am not as young as I would like to be. I hope this helps some what, I know others who are far more skill than I am are out there who may offer a better solution. Good luck, and happy paddling.

I use . . .
the same method as JackL (#1). However, after two years since I got my yak, my entry and exit still feel awkward and not very smooth. It’s like I’m just one movement away from losing it and taking a swim.

Do others with some experience feel this way? Or do you eventually get it down cold where you can enter or exit quickly with no hesitation and no awkwardness?

Transition via the rear deck
I am small enough that I can hop into just about anything, just about any way. However, even with that I have to be real attentive trying to get out of my Vela onto a high dock.

The best thing to do to give yourself a transtition point that is more under control is to come onto the rear deck, just behind the seat and stabilize there between being in the cockpit or out of it. Whatever favors you are going to get from a boat re balance, that’s usually your best shot.

I Have Always Used
my paddle across the deck behind me to get a stable point to brace with. JackL and Mrs. JackL taught me their method and I am practicing it.

On the other hand. I have watched several lady paddlers over the last several months and without exception they all seem to just hop in and hop out without a care. Watching more closely I noted that the ladies I have watched are able to just sit in the seat then move their legs into the boat and just the oppisite for getting out. Guess my long legs and old legs are keeping me from doing that, LOL.

Happy Paddling,


Most always, I use the paddle
Even in water a foot deep, I use the paddle.

Stand to one side of the kayak, let’s say the right, put the paddle blade on the rear of the cockpit, with the paddle extending out to the right behind you at a 90 degree angle from the kayak. With your left hand, pin the paddle blade under the heel of your hand, curl your fingers under the combing, and squeeze so that the paddle stays put. Now sit on the paddle, with your butt next to your left hand. The away end of the paddle will sink to the bottom. Most of your weight is on the kayak, and you can sit like this indefinately. Swing your legs into the boat, but be sure to keep your weight to the right, otherwise you are going over to the left. Slide legs in and butt down to seat, away you go.

The situation that gives me the most trouble is entry from a high dock, seawall, or bank. Your paddle is no help, and you basically need to stand in the cockpit for an instant, hold the boat in place, and get your legs folded and down before you swim. Again, I will usually just try to lean on the dock side so that you are more or less tipping over, but toward the dock. Tendency is for the kayak to want to float out from the dock, leaving you in an unsustainable position, so speed is good. I have not yet ended up in the water, but it always feels like I am going to, and I am not sure how I get in. I guess my ab muscles hold the legs and boat steady while I lower myself.

I’m 6’4" with low flexibility. I can just barely straighten my right leg if I am sitting in the yak with a knee up. An old hip injury on the left limits my range of motion at the left hip, so that leg always has to go in first.

You will figure out what works for you. Good luck.

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

what jack said
Jack’s #1 is how i always do it except i do it from the left side with right leg in first.Only times i had problem is trying to launch in serious breaking surf. but then i was also a total newbie. The whole ’ paddle behind you across the deck’ method just doesnt work for me,just gives me another thing to worry about. I just let the paddle float around on paddle leash as i get in the boat and skirt up.

Butt - Leg - Leg
is easiest for me.

I won’t ever own an ocean cockpit.

5’ 11 and 205# and method # 1 is my choice for all keyhole equipt kayaks…when getting out…just bring one leg out and as you get to shore, just step down with that foot and shift your weight forward onto that foot and stand up…all your weight is on the foot on the bottom in the water…just step out of the boat. (kind uf pull youself up a little by using the front of the cockpit combing)

Best Wishes


Another loose, limber chap!
Good morning Rex.



but leg leg
for me too AND leave legs out a few seconds so water drains from your shoes before bringing leg into boat.

The new C&K mag…
Nigel Foster has an article about just that…

Do it the same way

– Last Updated: May-27-06 10:10 AM EST –

too, but in, let feet drain, then both legs in at the same time (BDLL). Also have been thinking of attaching a tether to my paddle so I do not have to keep track of it when I drop in.

So for those of
us who do not have the mag, what does he say?

Good Morning, Jack
Just got in from a hammerfest with my ‘friends’. I can’t even see straight, yet.

I got on the water for about three hours yesterday morning. Water temp down here is up to 78 degrees.

You doin’ ok?


Entering and Exiting an Ocean Cockpit…
I always have the kayak in a minimum of ankle deep water, straddle the kayak ,sitting on the rear deck directly behind the cockpit. I use the paddle as an outrigger while placing one foot in and then the other, and then just slide in to the seat. Getting out I use the same method and haven’t had to much trouble with doing it this way. My ‘big’ problem is getting out when the waters a bit rough and the waves prevent me from using my paddle as an outrigger. Without the paddle I am not able to balance as I slide up off the seat so that I can get my feet out. This has been an ongoing problem and would appreciate help from anyone who has an ocean cockpit and can help me out. Thanks!

all suggestions great!
Fantasic response! Too many of you to email seperately…will try them all to see what works for me… Thanks again Mikeb

That’s one of the con’s of an ocean CP
I found out I need a 31" CP to be able to straddle the boat, sit down and then bring my legs in.

I tried the Outer Island and it is about an inch to short but otherwise a nice boat.

“Butt, Leg, Leg”?

– Last Updated: May-27-06 1:54 PM EST –

I've heard this described many times, and I don't know how you people can do it. I'm only 5'8", have a Skerray RMX with the long cockpit, and there is absolutlely no way I can get a foot in or out of the cockpit with my butt in the seat. Maybe I have abnormally long thighs for my height. Must enter legs first and exit butt first. I've already decided that if I buy another sea kayak it will have the ocean cockpit because there is no advantage for me in having the keyhole.