launch kayak from ramp or dock?

dock poles are called pilings


– Last Updated: Jun-17-12 8:03 PM EST –

agree---when I used to guide folks in Fort Washinton, MD we had to put absolute beginners in boats from a dock---never had a client take a tumble into the water--used the paddle behind the back, butt on the rear deck on the paddle shaft, feet swing into the boat, then butt into seat. The thing we would always tell them is don't stand up in the boat while getting out, regardless of whether its a beach launch or a dock launch. I wonder what would happen if Mr. Fink's boat was hit with a wave or boat wake while he was balencing on his outside foot.

That Fink video is nuts
Standing up? Then bending over at a back-cracking angle? The key to a dock entry or exit is simple, based on lowest possible center of gravity and keeping your weight in the centerline of the boat.

A. Plop your butt on the dock, with your feet in the centerline of the cockpit.

B. Grab the back of the coaming with one hand, right in the middle, with the other hand on the dock.

C. Swing your butt around into the seat in one smooth motion. Done.

No need to clutch the paddle for stability. Just get in, or get out.

Sometimes you have a choice, sometimes you have neither, depends where you launch. It’s not rocket science, if you got the boat to the launch point, you can figure it out. Whatever gets you in the kayak, is the right way. Tkamd

Prefer Dock
The easiest way is to first tie a short length of rope from the approximate balance point of the kayak (often on a seat hanger or fitting) to a dock cleat or other fitting. Then, just step into or out of the kayak. No drama, no possible way to capsize. I have used this method to enter and exit my kayak when the water level was a good three feet lower than the dock.

It’s Been a while, but…
As I recall, the most comfortable way from a low dock for me was to sort of half lay on the dock with legs perpendicular to the cockpit with legs sort of off the deck. then slide the legs into the cockpit letting the boat roll to its side (which is what it wants to do anyway). Between the solid brace I have on the dock, and the hip control I have with my legs in the boat, I can sort of hip snap the boat back up. I discovered this when launching from the platform off the back of a ski boat. Won’t work from a high dock.


launching from a high dock.

agree but always
nice to have the paddle for a little extra stability

Good idea or advice
A high dock is just a tough skill to master if you’re alone. Of course… why not use a rope? I think people get so hell-bent on mastering skills that the obvious is right under their nose. Sailors have been using rope since he beginning of time. The caveat is that you need a place to tie to and not all kayaks may have it. Perfect idea however.