Launching a glass kayak

What is the best way to launch a kayak from a sandy/rocky shoreline so as not to scratch the hull and avoid getting water into the cockpit. I say this because for years I have been paddling a plastic boat and will soon be paddling a glass one.

Scratches Are Inevitable…
at least with composite boat, you can refinish when the scratches become too much for your eyes to bear. That’s one of the crucial benefits of a composite over plastic boat. Composite can be repaired and refinished for a long, long time.

Launch as you would a plastic kayak to avoid getting water in the cockpit.


Enter the cockpit in about a foot
of water. Put one foot in. Park your butt in the seat, and pull the second leg in. If you don’t feel like you can do this without dumping, just get in with part of the hull still on shore, and use your hands against the bottom to lift and push yourself into deeper water.

Regardless of what method you use, your hull will collect scratches. If it bugs you a lot, get a white hulled boat–the scratches will be less noticeable.

These methods, BTW, can be used in plastic boats to make them last longer. Scraping the bottom of the boat of your plastic boat with a shore launch will EVENTUALLY cause it to wear all the way through. If you want your plastic boat to last forever, using a moderate amount of care to avoid unnecessary scraping is a good idea. But there’s no need to be obessive compulsive about it.

I have seen people launch by
putting a piece of runway carpet down as a sort of boat slip to prevent scratches.

Scratches are not inevitable
I find it quite easy to avoid scratches if you care enough. I understand that some folks do not care and prefer the convenience of running their boat hard on to the shore or set it down on the rocks. However, if you do care about maintaining the fastest, smoothest kayak, you will simply get your feet wet and enter and exit the kayak in a foot or two of water.

Avoiding submerged rocks is also quite easy if you care enough. Its just part of good seamanship for all vessels.

wave action
kinda depends on the energy of the waves at the put in.

I caught hell from my paddling buds
when I put a rubber mat under my new glass boat.Best thing to do, as already pointed out, it get in in about a foot of water. also, go ahead and scratch it and get over it.

Maybe avoiding waves is
part of good seamanship too?

I can’t stand to look at a boat that isn’t all scratched up. Makes me wonder about where it hasn’t been yet.

Scratches? No big deal!
envyabull wrote:

“Avoiding submerged rocks is also quite easy if you care enough. Its just part of good seamanship for all vessels.”

Not so sure I agree with this statement. When you’re sitting down only inches from the water it’s difficult at best to see rocks that are submerged just below the surface.

I enjoy paddling very close to the shore in waves and swell and have on many occasions have hit or come crashing down on rocks. I don’t even give it any thought anymore.

I paddle a wooden boat with a nice finish:

I get lots of comments like “you don’t really put that in the water do you?” and “it would be a shame to scratch that”. It’s a boat. Had I wanted a coffee table, I would have built a coffee table.

For me, a scratched hull is a sign of someone who actually uses their boat the way it was intended to be used.

I guess the big difference for me is that I fully expect to put scratches on my boat and am OK with it.

Improper seamanship? I don’t think so. I’m just out there having fun.


I get in my composite kayak the same
way I got in my plastic one.

Put it in water that is just deep enough so when you get in the hull won’t be scraping on the bottom.

When you get out, do it the same way as you got in.

In the cold weather months this requires a good pair of knee high water proof shoes such as NRS boundary shoes.

If I am in an area where there is nice fine sand, I might drag the boat a foot or so, but seldom more than that.

That just might be the reason why my plastic long boat is still in such good shape after about ten years and a zillion miles



The two hour put it …
Have you seen these guys, they usually drive a luxury SUV, unoad about 75 lbs of gear very gingerly lower the kayak onto the beach with pad under neath it, spend about 1 hour contemplating the waves, wait until there is not a breaker in site… paddle out together with like minded folks fo about an hour … return after sitting at watching the 18 inch waves for a break so they won’t have any difficult and spend another two hours messing with all the junk and delicately loading the $4000 kayak in the paddled saddles.

Launching in a foot of water
I personally find hard if not impossible to launch my kayak in a foot of water unless is very, very calm. I do it when I can but if I can’t… no big deal, I do not lose my sleep over my scratched hulls.

Straddle and sit
I like to straddle the kayak while it’s afloat in a few inches of water, then sit my butt down in the seat. Last, bring my feet in one at a time.

If you’re tall, you need a nice key-hole cockpit (only NDK will do for me). Most people can do this with any reasonably sized coaming.

As you bring in the feet, do some sculling for support on one side - it will stabilize the boat nicely.

This requires a bit of flexibility, but you should be working on that for general kayaking anyway. Give it a try.


Like Coke vs. Pepsi …
… The owner of a boat without scratches either dosen’t use the boat, dosen’t use it properly (er, hard enough), is an SUV driving\expensive gear collecting wuss, anal, or just someone who takes care of their boat.

You can learn to get in and out with the boat in the water, or get in with part of the boat on the beach\rocks and use your hands and paddle to slide in. Your choice… dosen’t matter what anyone else thinks.

MHO: use the boat what ever way makes you happy. Personally, I take care of my boat … I’ve sold 3 over the years, and have always got a decent price because the boats are in good shape. But I don’t worry about normal wear, and sometimes you’re gonna hit a rock, drop the boat, etc.

The owner of a boat without scratches
…hasn’t had a chance to do enough paddling.

The scratches, dings etc… in my boats are the indication that I USE them.

maybe on your pond

Smooth rocks or seaweed if there
Actually, handled right nice smooth rocks can scratch less than sand loaded with small pebbles. Especially if there is seaweed there.

Not much seaweed in fresh water though, so just assess each launching spot carefully to find the best entry.

Not sure what to say about aviding getting water in the cockpit. If you are talking about water dripping from wet shoes or the bottom of your pants as an issue, you may want to rethink what is a problem. If you tend to dump the edge of the cockpit into the water unless you are getting in on dry land, you need to work on how to get into the cockpit more adroitly. The technique that’ll work for you will depend on your flexibility and fit in the boat, but you need to be able to get into a kayak when it is in a bit of water.

Use a dock
I use the stradle and sit method in warm weather, but when it gets cold, I get in and out from a dock, using my GP as an outrigger. It takes a little practice, but that way I don’t get my feet wet.

at all the suggestions to avoid scratches…use a dock (haha mine is usually bouncing up and down four feet).

Sooner or later your carefully planned loading and unloading plans will go afoul…There will be a need to land and waves breaking on rocks with dumping surf…so carry on…you cant stay in the water forever…

It doesnt hurt that bad…I had a friend break his yak because he didnt want to drag it over rocks on a Muscongus Bay Island…He carefully loaded it loaded it onto a cart and tried to get the cart over the rocks the 25 feet to the water (the tide had gone out while packing)…the boat cracked.

Better he would have packed quickly and dragged the boat if necessary over the rockweed.

I didn’t know I was giving advice to Tsunami Ranger.