Is there a proper way to lift a kayak onto your shoulders?
Check out the Feb 2003 Skill of the
Month from the University of Sea Kayaking at www.useakayak.org. Wayne goes throught the entire procedure of safely picking up a boat.
My Judo Inspired Method
I use some of the same techniques that I’ve learned in judo that allows me to throw a person well over 200 lbs over my shoulder with no injury.
Squat straight down, keeping good straight posture, reach with your hand and tip the boat and hold the coaming in your hand. Keeping your elbow as close to your side as possible (to prevent shoulder injury), lift with your legs and come straight up.
I made a removable portage yoke…
…for my heavy 17’-3" poly Eclipse, and this is how I do it.
First visualize the yoke right across the middle of the cockpit.
The kayak is on the ground with the bow up against a tree or other imovable object.
Standing beside the cockpit lean over and grab the far side of the coaming with your left hand. Grab the coaming side near you with your right hand (or place the palm of your right hand on the side of the yaks hull near you).
Keeping the bow on the ground I swing the kayak up and over my shoulders and let the yoke down on on them
Once it is resting on my shoulder I then allow the front to float up until the yak is balanced on my shoulders and parallel to the ground and away I go.
Prior to making my yoke and also with my lighter QCC kayak I do it in a similiar fashion, but instead of over my head, I bring it up sideways and keep it sideways on my right shoulder using my right shoulder and right arm to balance it while my left arm is still helping on the high side of the coaming.
Easier seen then described!
I just assumed everyone carried them in a similiar fashion.
Use your legs
I am not sure of the right way, but I have a way that works for me. From one side of the kayak, I squat and lean over the cockpit, and grab around the inside of the combing on the other side. Using mostly my legs and a little of my back, I then lift and stand to get the kayak to a point where my uplifted thigh can support the weight. I then lift that leg high enough to get my shoulder inside the cockpit. I keep the knee up until I have a good balance and position on my shoulder. Then I lower my knee and march!
The thing I don’t like about my method is that, for a few seconds, I am standing on only one leg. I think I am going to try to modify my method to include some of lalleluia’s to use more leg strength and less back. My restriction there is I cannot squat totally down (injury sustained during karate), so I will have to improvise.
I definitely recommend lifting weights to condition the muscles to the point where they will help to prevent injuries from occurring. Many injuries come from people trying to use their bodies in ways they have not conditioned them to operate. Lifting a kayak is going to be a pretty normal thing we do so train with some weights!
Gosh, videos in this thread would sure be nice!
Don’t Forget the Arm Placement
Keeping the elbow close to the body protects the shoulder. My sensei teaches us that it takes about 15 pounds of force to do some major damage to the shoulder if used improperly. One of those ways is to support something with your arm extended away from the body. A kayak weighs more than 15 pounds. Shoulder injury = no paddling for a while.
This judo animation is a little fast, but, if you focus on the body and elbow position just before this judo player springs up for the throw (ippon seoinage), you will see the safe position for lifting the boat.
Don’t drop your shoulder as this player does unless you want to shoulder throw your kayak
Very good point
… regarding the elbows staying in. I checked and that is the way I do it. Once again, I trained lifting my weights that way and I guess I just forgot about it. Reminds me of a lesson I learned from karate: be careful what you practice, because in a real situation, that is likely what you will do without thinking about it.
Good animation on your link! Hey, could you get those guys to do a kayak-lifting animation? That would be nice
Lift Stern Or Bow
Squat by stern or bow, grab handle and then stand. Reaching under hull lift to shoulder height. Then start working your way to center. When at balance point squat down and boat will level itself. Then stand again. By starting at the end of your kayak you’ll be using leverage to pick it up. Personally I’m strong enough to carry my kayak like a suitcase. I just squat next to it
Lift Stern Or Bow
Try not to carry your kayak on your shoulder whenever possible. But if you have to squat by stern or bow, grab handle and then stand. Reaching under hull lift to shoulder height. Then start working your way to center. When at balance point squat down and boat will level itself. Then stand again. By starting at the end of your kayak you’ll be using leverage to pick it up. Personally I’m strong enough to carry my kayak like a suitcase. I just squat next to it and grab with one hand.
A touring kayak on your shoulder can cause you problems. It’s not that good an idea to carry one like that. Setting it down will be more of a problem for your body than picking it up. Downward momentum will make it heavier. It will also block your vision. Most people I know drag their boats if it’s just a short distance. Rocks near shorelines are rarely sharp and your kayak will slide over them with ease. The few scatches on the stern won’t affect handling. You’ll get more scatches on the hull when pushing off while sitting in the cockpit.
Any pictures of your removeable yoke?
I can rest the edge of the folded down seat back of my 56 lb Castine on the back of my “horse collar” life jacket, but I have to lean my head forward to keep it out of the bottom of the seat. This is rather uncomfortable after 50 feet or so. Some sort of removeable yoke may work a little better.
If you don’t have any pictures or descriptions of yours, are there any commercially available kayak yokes that you’d recommend? When I paddle in groups, I never see anyone using any. I usually paddle alone. I just got the Castines. I’m used to my Phoenix Isere and Poke Boat that are both under 30 lbs and just carry them over my head or one hand them at my side. The 56 lbs is quite an adjustment. I don’t have any trouble with the lift, just what to do once I get it there.
While I really like judoinfo.com for information on this sport, I don’t know the developers. I could probably get the web coding for the animation, but I’m really bad at drawing.
I have some good pictures, but
unfortyunately I am temporarily on my daughters computer and don’t know how to get to them.
All it consists of is a home made yoke, (the same as a canoe yoke), but I have added 4" blocks and then another couple of inches of high density foam that is curved for the shoulder (to keep your head below the cockpit so you can see).
With the yak on the ground, cockpit side facing up, place the yoke across the cockpit at the balance point of the kayak. The yoke should be about four inches wider than the kayak on each side. Then it gets attached to the kayak by means of one double looped cam-lock buckle type strap.
Visualize attaching it to one of your roof rack bars, but upside down.
It works like a charm, and only takes a few seconds to attach and unattach)
Over the past several years I have e-mailed pictures to several folks from P-net, and if you still can’t figure it out from my description above, let me know and I’ll figure some way to get some pictures to you in the next week or so.
That gives me a pretty good idea for a yoke that I could rig. I hadn’t thought about using a strap to secure it.
Apparently I don’t do it correctly
I simply reach down, grab the combing, and swoop it up; either to my shoulder or right over my head. I guess the weak mind is compensated for by the strong back…
“Try not to carry your kayak on your shoulder whenever possible [snip] A touring kayak on your shoulder can cause you problems. It’s not that good an idea to carry one like that.”
Why not? I agree with the blocked vision, and I certainly know a kayak transport is a better way to go. But are you talking about damaging the shoulder or something? Sometimes when I carry mine on my shoulder, it can rub the skin on my shoulder which I don’t like. But if I use my opposite hand on the lower side of the kayak to cause some of the weight to be placed on my hip, it feels very light on my shoulder.
I think I will give your end-to-center lift thing a try to see how I like it - good suggestion.
You don’t want to twist your spine with weight on your shoulders. If you even lift a box and hold it at arm’s length you should turn with your legs and not with your back. Had a friend spend a week in the hospital when she twisted her back while holding a case of Coke. With a kayak even a slight breeze may cause a problem by twisting the boat. I’ve been trained in proper lifting techniques in both private and government sector BTW.