Getting In And Out -- for OLD PEOPLE

I’d like to know if anyone has any suggestions for what kind of stretching/training to do to make getting in and out of a kayak easier. I always feel like such a klutz and also like I don’t have the right muscles anymore…to be quick and graceful about it. I kind of plop myself in… and hope for the best. I am athletic, walk and hike regularly and teach yoga!

Any suggestions?


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– Last Updated: Jun-14-06 9:35 PM EST –

...has to figure out their own way to gracefully
get in and out of a kayak on their own.

As soon as you do, tell me how.

The best way is to lay the paddle on the back of
the cockpit, grab the paddle shaft and cockpit
rim with one hand, put your other hand on the
cockpit rim, put your farside foot in, then your
remaining foot in and ease yourself down.

You'll spill. Your paddling companions will laugh.

Here is the illustration

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Nothing wrong with plopping in
I plop my butt into my boats then bring my legs in, though I have taken an occassional spill when I was less attentive with the Vela. In fact, it is a better way to get in if you are trying to get in from a muddy bank - allows you to rinse the mud off your feet before bringing them into the boat. If you do yoga, hike and are getting into an Otter, I’m hard pressed to see why you couldn’t do this.

You do have to be willing to get your feet wet, but that’s just part of kayaking.

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If its a soft bank, dirt, or sand, I
usually enter with the bow pointed out into the water about half way with the stern resting on the bank. Wouldn’t do that if it were rocky or big gravel. Exit is usually paralell to the bank with the paddle on the bank to brace the kayak and me. The paddle goes behind you when bracing for an exit.

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Different times when
I have my little plastic Rec kayak I love to find a steep grassy bank, and then sit in it way up on the bank and let her rip all the way down in.

If you do yoga, I would think that you could get in very easy by just straddling the kayak. then sitting down in it. After you are sitting then bend your knees and bring your legs in.



I Have Noted Over The Past
few months while paddling with others that many, or all, of the female paddlers seem to be able to get in and out like you suggested Celia. For me, I would need and extra leg joint at the shin or a cockpit about a foot and a half long to be able to do that.

I am working on a compromise that JackL showed me which may work out for me. One leg in, then sit in the seat, then bring the second leg in and work in under. I have managed to bust my shin most times but I will practice. This method would serve to save my paddle as I typically use it as a brace.

The people that are afraid to get any
water on them and/or worry about how they look have the most problems. If you can get beyond these and you are reasonably flexible and have some coordination (if you do yoga I would imagine no problems here) then you should be able to find the way that works for you. Experiment. The “standard” way or the way others do it might not be your best route. And it will vary some depending on the location and the boat and boat type. A lot of it depends on how you rate a succeful entry/exit. For me, I am not concerned over what it looks like or if I get wet, as long as I get going.

Straddling works
But not on boat launches.(which wny is cursed with). I actually scout the shoreline along the upper niagara for places with a small sandy or smooth pebble beach where i can straddle and scoot. The slime on boat launch sites too often results in a slip sliding away and…God help me, despite cycling and being reasonable nimble I have yet (much to the delight fo the UB rowing crew and the odd fisherman)to master getting in from a floating dock.

If you do fall…
…tell 'em you did it on purpose. that’s what I do.

Getting out
I have found that getting out in knee deep water is easier than getting out on the beach. I take one leg out and then stand up. It’s more like getting out of a chair than trying to get up off the floor.

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exiting is embarrasing and difficult
Thanks for sharing, I often think I’m the only one with a problem. I can get in, fall in, drop in and then pull in the other leg but getting out is not simple. First of all I’ve no strength in my left knee, parts of my knee just are not in there because the doctor took them out. The knee is weak and not likely to recover.

The best place for me to exit is a shallow area where I can just roll out. Boat launches are too deep too quickly. I used to take my paddle apart and use it for a cane but now I have a good paddle and I don’t have the heart to misuse it. I took my mother’s cane but it was too short.

I used to worry more about getting it on and off my van, now my biggest problem is getting out of the kayak.

I’ve been wondering if more experience with the kayak will improve my technique.

Would Yoga really help?

I’m far too heavy a person and don’t like to put my weight on offered arms because I probably weigh more than I look like I do. My kayak has bulk heads so carting along another paddle is a problem. I keep thinking someday I will have a narrow kayak I can straddle and then maybe I won’t have this problem.

All exit ideas are appreciated. I can’t even take steps without an arm rail. My knee is that unstable.

Two weeks or so ago I showed up at a family event soaking wet in the dress I’d gone kayaking in. Then it began to rain cats and dogs so no one noticed.

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Couple of…
If it’s a decent paddle it sure as heck should be able to support you for exit and entry. Use and abuse it - if it doesn’t stand up to what you need get a stronger one.

Your boat has a bulkhead but no deck bungies or rigging? That seems odd, but maybe. If you do have rigging, use it to stow the spare.

It sounds like your exit problem is as much the height of the deck as the width of the boat. Is it too bargey to be able to slide up onto the rear deck behind the seat, then plant your feet as you slide it forward out from under you? If not, give that a try. It removes the issue of havign to dump all your weight onto a single leg.

His and Hers
My wife gets in using the ‘plop’ method and has no difficulty with it.

To get in, I straddle the kayak, hold one end of the paddle and the back of the cockpit with one hand, sit on that hand, hold the other end of the paddle with the other hand, put just enough weight on the outboard paddle to prevent tipping in the other direction, put one leg at a time into the cockpit, and slide (carefully) into the cockpit. To get out, I hold the paddle and the cockpit the same way as to get in, lift myself onto the back deck, bring my feet out of the kayak, lean forward just a little, and stand up.

The foregoing seems to work for me, and I’m 77 years old and not particularly athletic.

I have tried this and end up doing the splits!

I do it as Celia suggests, but I am small enough to find that possible. One of the virtues is that this is a very stable way to enter the kayak.

The OP states “for OLD people”? At 81, I am not sure I am OLD, but my wife certainly thinks I am.


Do comment threads age in “Dog Years”? At a 5:1 (Thread to Human) ratio this thread and @rsevenic are of a similar age.

The butt in then legs is ideal but also depends on the human/cockpit relationship. In k=my limited experience:
This human is ~5’ 8", ~160 lbs, 31" inseam & ~10 years younger

Pygmy Arctic Tern 17’ (Seals 1.7) No problem entering or exiting - actually, I can hardly stay in the kayak when upside down.
P&H Delphin 150 (Seals 1.4) No Problem entering or exiting
NDK Explorer LV (Seals NDK-B??) - new to me in September. I can get in by dropping my but in but some padding on the shins is worthwhile. I am finding that I may want to slide out onto the back deck first on exit.
Yost Sea Rider (Ocean) retired form the fleet - Entry by sliding in from the back deck &, just about, reverse flexing the knees to slide under section 4 - the masik for entry & exit.

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Core muscle groups, abs and lower back. Work on balance.
It helps to put a kayak parallel to shore to get in it.

OR, get a Sit On Top.
I have a leg that won’t bend and a back that isn’t much better . It is easy to do the plop method when you don’t have to get your legs under a deck.