Entering Kayak

I just picked up a couple Old Town Dirigo 106 kayaks and have what probably sounds like a dumb question. What is the best way to get into the kayak? From a pier, from standing in shallow water, etc. My wife and I are no longer as limber or strong as we once were so I would like to hear some techniques so that we don’t end up with one foot in the kayak and then the next thing we know we are in the water. Thanks in advance.

Get it in water just deep enough to
float it, plus 4", sit on the back deck and slide your feet in.Use your paddle for bracing if needed. You need the extra water so it won’t be stuck on the bottom once you are in.

You will probably fall over a couple of times.

shallow, sandy area
If theres not alot of rocks, just a sandy beach, you can just parrallel the kayak to the beach, in shallow water so you can put one foot in, your butt, then the other foot, and push off with your paddle. docks are bad for newbies because they extend to a deep part, and its hard to launch in deep water. if there are rocks you may have to launch in deeper waters so the kayak will still float after it is holding your weight. Always keep your center of gravity as low as possible, I suggest one foot in, then your butt in asap, to keep your center of gravity low, then the other leg in.

Depends on cockpit size and shape
If your boats’ cockpits are long/wide enough relative to your own size, you can get in easily and safely by putting the boat in shallow water, standing over it with legs straddling the sides, and then plopping your butt in first. Then you pull the legs in, either simultaneously or one at a time. Try it both ways to see what you like best.

This assumes you are in fairly calm water, though it can be done with some waves. Since you are new, pick a calm spot to practice.


great site with a lot off animations.

click on startup and you see Getting in from pier and Getting in from shore.

have fun

Straddle method works well for us.
Plastic rec boats, slow rivers.

Stay dry -:wink:

I know this is probably not for you since you are asking such a question and due to your age I presume, but still … this works very well and is surprisingly easy from low-rise shores/piers or sliding down sloped shores, and can be done even with open cockpits if the drop is small.

Then you can work your way up to 10 foot piers if you want, but you need to have your roll pretty well mastered for these -:wink:

C’mon Jim …learn the hard way
and you’ll have some great stories to tell unless someone captures them on film.

Regardless what you are told it is much easier to have someone show you. Geting in and out of a kayak is 75% of the difficulty… maybe more.

Good luck

Paddlin’ on


you people are being cruel
The cockpits on these boats are HUGE! There is no reason to fool around with dock entry or paddle bracing or parallel to shore, each of which presents unique, significant, unnecessay hazards. Nor should you have to worry about bottom composition. Just walk out into knee-deep water, even a little deeper, with the bow pointing straight out into the water, swing one leg (forward) over the boat and sit down. You don’t need to straddle the boat completely, you just need to get your butt over the seat with your weight approximately centered and sit down. Let your feet hang in the water. You can paddle away with your legs hanging out and easily, easily!, bring your legs inside without all those gyrations once you are well clear of the beach. If you are feeling confident you can put your heels up on the coaming, but you’re more stable with your feet down in the water and, frankly, your cockpit is so long it would be easier to swing them all the way in than prop them up. The idea is to get at least a couple of boat lengths from shore before bringing your legs inside, to avoid being pushed aground or turned sideways in the midst of that maneuver. Bracing with your paddle is a good way to break your paddle; parallel to shore is good way to get rolled; and anything that involves your boat partly supported by anything other than water is a good way to get dumped. Your boat is only stable when you are low in it and only water is under it. So the safest way to enter is to get as low as possible as quickly as possible, perpendicular to waves and away from shore.

Fortunately, you have the perfect easy-entry boat. All the advice about one-leg-first, scootching in from behind, and paddle-shaft-under-the-thumb is how people cope with small cockpit openings. You don’t have their problems and don’t need those methods. All you have to remember is bean-bag chairs and how much fun they were. Just aim your butt and plop.

Getting out is a little different. Again, perpendicular to waves is best, which means straight in until you are in knee-deep water, swing your legs out and stand up. That really is straddling and difficult with such a wide boat, so a couple of reasonable alternatives are to swing both legs to one side and stand up, which will get water in the boat, and running it aground, which will scratch the hull. Neither is a sin, just a price. A thoughtful gesture is for the first person to shore to go back out and hold the boat of the second person. Coming back to land is asking a lot of legs that have been straight and still for a while, so a steady boat, which is the only thing to hold onto, is big help.

oh, and
that reminds me: a friend of mine with an ocean cockpit (not much bigger around than her waist, designed to withstand wave impacts but a bear to corkscrew into) has successfully recruited other people in their boats to steady her boat in deeper water. You might try that. One of you stays standing, holding both boats while the other gets all the way in, then that person holds onto the empty boat while the standing person gets all the way in. Then you paddle off together. Two boats rafted up is vastly more stable than either alone. I think you’ll find it easy as long as you stay completely afloat. It’s when a boat touches solid ground that it pitches you out.

Right on
Your reply is right on for those boats, but I’d like to add just one modification. I’ve found when using that method, it’s actually easier to have the boat positioned stern-first. The momentum from the “straddle/plop” maneuver then actually pushes the boat away from shore (albeit backwards) and clear of scratching the bottom. At least that’s how it works for me.


I agree
finally someone who doesn’t believe in the “I’ll never break my paddle, because …SEE…I’m not really putting any weight on it” line…if You don’t need to put any weight on it…You don’t need it to get in.

Learn a better way, so surf launches and landings are possiable…forget the paddle brace to land Idea…it was a bad Idea years ago and it’s still a bad idea…

it was a take off of the inuit way , with the paddle out into the water as a outrigger…and is only used getting into an Ocean cockpit kayak that is setting in deep water and where the paddler is climbing down from a steep bank.

I’m sorry to see so many acomplished paddlers that haven’t shaken this poor method for entry…just because

ITS THE WAY EVERYBODY DOES IT…not so…people that paddle enough have better balance with their boat and don’t need the paddle as a crutch to get in.

Rant over (lose the paddle for entry…most of You are better paddlers than that)(even teaching it as a getting started entry is a bad idea and shadows skill building)

OOPS…now the rant is over…

Best Wishes


I never use my paddle for a brace
because I’m afraid of breaking it.

Having help is also good;I help people all the time and they help me if I need it.

Inuit way

I’ve been practicing the “inuit way” as you describe it using the flotation of wood paddles. My success rate is about 9/10 of the time. Well, after a 5 hour paddle today I was using this method to get out of the kayak and the 1/10 that doesn’t work came around. Over I went. Fortunately, I had paddled hard to get back to my car to make a late afternoon appointment and was ahead of everyone. My practicing the first half of a roll in shallow muddy water was unseen.


it’s called a beach roll…just one of many to be familiar with so that You can perfect it and do it slow with no effort…Be proud Your being on Your way to saving Your paddle and being free of the solid ground

had You been in a keyhole cockpit…You could of just put one foot out…and steped out in the water shifted Your weight and stood up on one leg…then steped out with the other…ready to run from the crashing stuff …way easy…where’s the challenge?

With Ocean cockpits in the summer…Beach Rolls after a long paddle just allow You to have a reason to swim and get cooled off…Winter is a differant story

Best wishes


Entering boats
I have found that parallel to shore if possible on sand/mud is preferred to concrete boat landings. I try not to scratch my boat but I have yet to see a boat that gets used where I paddle that doesn’t get scratched.

With a 36" inseam I cant straddle and plop butt in first but if you’re of normal stature that seems like the way to go.

Old fat guys says, " straddle method"
Put the stern (back of the boat) in the current in about 4 inches of water. Spread your legs and pull the boat between your legs. When the cockpit is under your butt, plop down. Use your paddle to counteract the weight of pulling one leg in, then the other.

Without the Kayak Kickstand
I’m afraid it can’t be done.


This only works
if your cockpit is long enough - and your torso/legs short enough - that you can get your legs inside once your butt is already down. In my boat, that’s not happening.