Kayak reentry

I’ve heard a little about reentering a sit on top in the event you should be forced or fall out of it. Well just for experimentation i hopped out of mine to see how much trouble it would be to get back in it. No luck, everytime I tried to crawl back in it just flipped over. What am I doing wrong, could it be that my Yak isn’t arranged for returning to the helm? It’s a Manta Ray 14. Luckily the water I commited this silly act in was not an especially large body of water & I was able to dog paddle the Yak & myself to shallower water where I could resume my in the boat position.

2 options
first try to enter from the bow or stern rather than the side.

second, instead of trying to pull yourself up onto the kayak try this. Get in the normal re-entry position on the side of the kayak. Let your body float to the surface with your legs behind you and extend your arms. (You are now in a superman position floating near the surface). Kick your legs and at the same time pull yourself forward keeping your head and torso low so that you slide onto the kayak.

Re-entry can be done in that kayak, just practice a bit. Remember you want to slide onto the kayak not do a ‘chin-up’ on to it.

good of you to try
I commend you for trying in a non-emergency situation. Definitely good to know you can get back in to your boat should you end up out of it.

Here are some articles that talk about how to do it (I can’t comment on them, as I have never had to re-enter a SOT):



If you are unable to find a route that works for you with the gear you have, you may want to consider the method used by sit inside kayakers. It would require that you buy a paddle float. Here is some info on the process:



One easy thing to fix
There’s a tendency to want to slide partway across the boat and then pull a knee up to try to crawl in. Knee goes on gunwale, weight goes on knee, gunwale goes underwater, paddler goes splash. Rinse and repeat. What you have to do is slide yourself across the boat until you’re face down with your hips over the seat, your head and shoulders hanging off on side of the boat and your legs off the other. Then roll over, drop your butt into the seat, and rotate your legs back into the footwells. It’s dead easy once you get it.

I’ll echo the prior comment on giving it a go voluntarily before you’re faced with a “situation”. Most folks new to paddlecraft need to learn to stay centered on/in their boats so they keep on top/inside in regular going, and the same hold for reentries: as also previously noted, you cannot clamber back aboard as if you were climbing onto a dock, but rather must take a more measured approach.

Here’s what we do -you can cowboy it (i.e., entering from astern, sort of like jumping onto the back of a horse, from whence cometh the description, also as a prior poster noted) but it’s a bit more problematic, especially if you’ve got a typical mid/high-back SOT seat, and/or if you’ve got a crate strapped on top -many SOTs are purchased by yakanglers, who carry a crate full of gear in a tankwell behind the seat, including rods -and they’re really tough to climb over when you cowbiy it, LOL!

So we advise our SOTing friends to do it the rugular from-the-side way.

And it worked for a friend of ours on her OK Prowler 13. She’s a 5’ tall, small, southern lady -and she’s got one mostly non-functional leg, and is not particularly strong to boot. She did it just fine with a little instruction and coaching.

Here’s how:

  1. Use your PFD to a) cushion the rubbing and b) add a little buoyancy

  2. Determine which is your strongest upper body “side” -then try and approach your yak with that side of you on the bow side of the boat.

  3. Reach across the hull and pull yourself across AT THE SAME TIME you KICK HARD: you ‘launch’ yourself across the seat area.

    You may slightly tip boat towards yourself during this maneuver -that’s OK as long as you slide across -the boat will settle down.

  4. Hanging on to the far side, roll over. Turn so that you rotate your legs towards the bow, your head towards the stern -you’ll be lying face up, now, with your mid- to lower back in the seat area…

  5. Turn yourself -slowly if need be -to align with the boat’s axis -legs towards bow, lifting your leading leg over the boat so that you’re straddling it, more or less lying on your back.

  6. Scoot back into the seat, bracing yourself on your arms as you rise up, legs on either side of the boat.

  7. Voila -ya dunnit!

    Yes, some consistent, increasingly heavy upper body work at the gym will improve your ability and ease of re-boarding. Lat pull-downs, T-bar rows, seated rows will work your back and increase your primary pull muscles; cable push-downs and kick-backs will strengthen your triceps, main push-up from lying on your back muscles; and of course, DB or BB curls for biceps, your arm muscles. And don’t forget your abs, either -they brace the torso -so do your crunches, too! (Good abs support good paddling form as well.)

    But -and here’s the key -it’s really more about timing than strength, anyway.

    And it helps to do this in nice, warm, Florida waters, especially if it’s fall, winter, or early spring if it’s winter for you northerners -don’t you agreee?

    Paddle -after getting back on -on!

    -Frank in Miami

“sort of like…”
“jumping onto the back of a horse”

Oh no!!! Fortunately, you don’t have to know how to do THAT! :slight_smile:

Seconding what PeterCA said: Good job for learning how to do this in advance, before you need it! Imagine how disconcerting it would be to learn that lesson in less forgiving circumstances. I suspect that’s how people drown.

You might try this: In order to make sure I always walk back through that door to my wife and kids at the end of the day, I figured I wanted some redundancy. Back up’s to back up’s. (If you’re a belt-n-suspenders kind of guy.) In case something didn’t work the first time around. One route is to get signaling devices, to let someone know you need help. Sea kayakers carry a VHF and flares. (Not that the flares ever help! They’re invariably duds.) I figured it would be good to learn three rescues, one of which had to work in any conditions. The “scramble” has already been described. That’s okay if it’s calm. Another that might work well with a SOT is a “re-enter and roll”. For that, if you don’t know how to roll, you need a paddle float. (And of course, more practice!) But that will work in almost any conditions. Is there instruction in your area? I found it to be well worth the investment. Good job learning this now. You’re loved ones will appreciate it.

One bit of encouragement
At some point while practicing all of these techniques, you may find yourself frustrated and thinking “I’m not strong enough.”

Have faith that balance is FAR more important than strength. Find a nice warm, shallow body of water, either chlorinated or not, and practice these where the cost of failure is very low, even fun.

Once you get the subtle balance figured out, it will require very little effort in terms of strength.

Have fun!

Please stick to what you know!
Re-entering pretty much any SOT in pretty much any conditions is far, far easier than re-entering and rolling. SOT re-enter and roll is closer to a parlor trick than something useful. In a SOT, the keys are to get very, very comfortable with re-entry and to make sure that you don’t lose either boat or paddle while you’re at it.

re-enter Manta Ray 14
You can do it.

Grab that onside handle and pull hard while giving a hard kick. Throw that other arm ahead and don’t be afraid if the boat tips a bit.

As the boat settles back down, move your legs onboard. Soon, you’ll be face-down, but back on the boat!

Belly … Butt … Legs Method
Check this out …


The advice about stretching out and trying to swim onto the kayak as you pull it underneath you is very good. Get your belly accross the boat, roll on your back, get your back in the kayak, drop your legs outside the boat and sit up then bring your legs inside the boat. If you have a tippy SOT hanging your legs over really gives you a lot of stability… if it’s too wide to hang your legs over the sides then you should have plenty of stability to sit back up.Plan ahead and put your paddle accross the boat or close by at the side where you can grab it for a few supportive strokes.

Practice, practice, practice,
Lots of good ideas by others here. Just keep practicing it. I have been a SOT driver for quite a while and usually practice at least once anytime I go out.