Docks & boat ramp

I do a lot of paddling on the Ohio River and connecting tributaries. Plenty of docks but few boat ramps. Easy to enter or exit the boat on a ramp but not so easy at a dock. Any good suggestions on getting out of a kayak at a dock, usually about twelve to eighteen inches above the water line?

Try this method which uses a short length of rope to hold the kayak to the dock.

It’s absolutely foolproof.

No swims…yet.

– Last Updated: Sep-21-16 2:04 PM EST –

My dock at home is about the same distance above the water. My kayak (22" beam, 31.5" x 16.5" keyhole cockpit) is placed in the water with the bow facing the shore and from a seated position on the dock, I stick both legs into the cockpit then sit down, keeping one hand on the dock. Paddle is within reach. Exiting, I'll paddle in so the bow has contact with the beach, put my paddle on the dock and keeping one hand on the dock, stand up and step up and out. Slowly and being sure I'm balanced.

The kayak launch dock at my most visited access to Lake Michigan has a shoreline of rocks for erosion control. With that dock my kayak goes in bow facing the water. Same entry but I hang on to that dock a lot tighter and try to time my entry with whatever the water is doing.

To exit, I'll wrap one arm around one of the dock posts or wedge my fingers in between the dock boards and pull myself up (trying to avoid landing on the duck poo), keeping one leg in the cockpit so I don't lose the boat. From there it's gyrating around to grab the boat and get my leg out, then move the kayak to the side of the dock so I can lift it onto the dock (my boat weighs 43#). It sure isn't pretty but it works. So far I haven't fallen in.

I thought about using a boat tether but figured I'd still wind up sprawled across the dock trying to get the kayak dockside to pull it out. One less thing to deal with.

Mid-summer a ladder was attached to the end of that dock. Must have been some mishaps as the ladder wasn't there last year. Hope I never have to use it.

that’s good stuff

My method entering from a dock
into a 21’ wide yak.

I just hug the dock using all my upper body strength then lower my legs and slide them into the cockpit.

The secret is to make love to the dock as you are getting in and keeping most of your weight on it.

jack L

Noticed the prism tape on his paddle

Using the video’s presenter, dock, and his kayak position as points of reference for this narrative, I grasp the dock cleat with my left hand. Step into kayak with my right foot & put weight just to the right of the boat’s center line (away from dock). That pressure forces the kayak against the dock. Keeping weight there, I step in with left leg & slide left leg into boat. Slide right leg in. Release deck cleat. Exit is pretty mush in reverse of entry. Key is keeping weight on the side of the kayak’s center line away from the dock, pinning it into the dock. Same method works entering & exiting at a ladder from a high dock. My boats are 21 and 22".

Find a spot with a dock cleat…
Dock cleats (used to tie off boats) that are about 10" or bigger work really well for giving you something with purchase to hang onto and then just lower yourself or raise yourself.

Helps to go to the gym and do some upper body strength workouts - my gym has something called seated dips that work the right muscles.

A sturdy coffee table
also works great for seated dips.

Just wish I could figure a way to do pull-ups at home. I have low ceilings.

I really don’t like docks, but sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. What I do is just sort of roll out onto the dock while trying very hard not to use the kayak for balance, or leverage. Getting into the boat is also a roll type maneuver where I start out about half way on my belly and again try to rely minimally on the boat for ballance.

Whichever method you use, practice, practice, practice and then practice some more. I would also suggest that you pick whichever side feels most natural to you and then stick strictly to that until you have it mastered. You might find that that is all you need; just like getting on and off a bike, or a horse.

My best suggestion would be to find a shallow spot and learn to get in and out with the boat fully in the water from one side of the boat and not astraddle.