launch kayak from ramp or dock?

Is there a preferred method between the two? Thank you.

works best for you. I personally have never launched from a dock.

I prefer a sandy, gentle sloping beach…
but I’ll take what I can get if I have to.

I’ve launched from mud, estuary grass, standing in the water, deepwater re-entry, otter launched from a wooden slide ramp or off a rock on the Yough and James, concrete ramp, roller ramps (hate those for a composite boat) and even once or twice successfully from a dock. A dock is my least favorite, most likely to end up out of the boat and in the water way to launch.

Learning to get in and out from them is a good habit, so you can handle a high one in a pinch. Easiest to sit on the back of the boat just behind the cockpit as an intermediate step if it is tall.

But there is no requirement that paddle boats use a dock, or the ramp, or anything at all aside from a small stretch of shoreline. If it is an area that is busy with motorized craft trying to use the same areas, you want to be wherever they aren’t.

Knee deep water.
I try to carry the boat into the water and get in it while it is floating. It is the difference between one or two extra scratches every trip that will add up. If there is grass, leaves, or sand it doesn’t matter. But from a ramp I put the boat in the water and then get in.

for me is way eaiser…, but in cold water I use the dock so you dont have to get wet., but not as easy. harder to get out on a high dock too…


Same for me, and another technique
Whenever possible I put the boat in water deep enough so that it still floats without touching bottom when I sit in it. Then it doesn’t matter whether the bottom is concrete, rocks, or gravel. Or silt, for that matter; I’ve encountered muck that wouldn’t come off until I wiped it off. So keep the boat floating in water.

If the only place to launch is a dock, well, that’s what the paddle-behind-coaming technique is for. Sometimes I’ve gotten in and out simply by standing up in the kayak and doing some dockside gymnastics. Obviously this depends on paddler, boat, and water conditions.

Now for another suggestion:

Often I paddle solo where there’s a good beach but a sloggy haul or cartage through deep sand if I want to carry the kayak to my truck. What I do then is this:

  1. Beach the kayak
  2. Walk to my truck and get a portage cart, which I put in the cockpit
  3. Wade/push the kayak in shallow water along the beach to the concrete boat ramp that’s farther away
  4. At the ramp, I keep the kayak floating while I slide the cart over one end
  5. Push or pull the boat so that only its wheels make contact with the bottom. Once it’s on concrete, it’s easy to roll along. This makes a longer portage than the direct route straight up the beach but it’s much easier to do.

Dock, if given a choice.
I don’t like to get my feet wet and sandy if I don’t have to, especially in the winter.

Getting out
I can get in that way; getting out (falling out) is the problem.

Hawaiian Style …
On the Island they do it Hawaiian Style …

I had the most fun I’ve ever had getting into and out of a kayak at Kealakekua Bay. A great big guy with arms like tree trunks has two lines, one from the bow and one from the stern … you watch the swells rolling in and when a big one is coming he pulls the kayak up to the level of the dock and you lower your self in and he keeps the boat from dropping too fast … getting out was the same but a bit tricker with the timing when big sets came through. Of course this was the widest SOT I have ever seen. He managed to get two fat ladies who had no clue what they were doing out even with big nasty swells. I told him I thought that was really well done, he had been really grumpy up until then but gave me a big smile - “yeah they was really fat too.”

I once considered putting in from a dock
And after I considered the height and roiling water for a while, I decided to go bowling instead.

I can usually get out of a kayak or tippy canoe on a concrete ramp with Wallenda balancing and minimal hull grinding except for one thing: those giant powerboat wakes that will arrive just as I am in the most precarious pose. It’s a Murphy Corollary.

Real seakayakers use ladders …
Here’s a trip report from a friend of mine from Anacapa Island that has a pretty famous ladder …

Getting in & out.
There is no one way to do it. It’s all dependant on the situation. My kayak never touches land. I place it in a few inches of water before using the straddle or extended paddle entry. At docks, extend the paddle out the far side and use it as an aid to slow the tendancy to roll. The first few attempts may result in an embarrasing splash, but with practice it becomes quite easy. Like all the rest of kayaking, it’s all a matter of practice. I paddle a skin-on-frame boat, so it’s necessary to sit behind the combing before getting the feet into the boat. Practice makes it pretty easy.

For simplicity’s sake
You can’t beat a dock

Yeah, but…
…where do you store him when you’re paddling?

Once your boat is at the dock, it has already been launched. I suggest everyone who doesn’t understand this review a list of nautical terms.

Ken Fink on entering a kayak

Needs the right dock height …
If the boat is a little lower this is not going to work. It’s better to keep your center of gravity as low as possible - a lot of new kayakers would be swimming trying to stand. A good idea is to look for a deck cleat where ropes are tied off, it gives you a good handle and makes it very easy to keep the kayak from moving away with you and you won’t tip over .

You pay him $20
to watch your car … no bullshit.

Entering from a dock
Brand new to kayak, but had some experience with this the past couple days at a vacation house. There was a dock in the backyard and had my Dad’s kayak and a kayak I just bought so really wanted to be able to get into the kayak from the dock and without banging the kayaks against the dock/poles.

I put the tip of the kayak into the water between to deck poles perpendicular to the dock and holding the back handle of the kayak lowered into the water. This was pretty easy with my 14’ kayak. Then I backed the kayak under the dock until the cockpit was right at the edge of the kayak. Had my wife hold bend down and hold the kayak with one hand and stepped onto the seat and sat down. Sounds kind of complicated, but was pretty simple and wasn’t really “standing” in kayak because was bracing myself with dock when entering.

When exiting pulling in between the dock poles perpendicular to dock again. Braced myself on the dock and stood up and climbed out. Worked like a charm and the kayak never touched the dock. I tried this same techinque with a couple family members who had only been in a kayak once and were able to pull it off without a hitch.

Of course this only works with the water level to the dock is manageable. But, worked much better than the first time I put the kayak in parallel to the dock as it banged against the deck poles and caused some minor scratches.