Launching and landing in surf

So I have been thinking about this and haven’t had the chance to try it but I am wondering if it would be possible to launch a loaded touring kayak by sealing the cockpit and wading/swimming out with the kayak until you clear the breakers, would that work? I have only been on one kayak tour and it was on the sea of cortez where there wasn’t heavy surf. The reason I ask is that I want to kayak the Mississippi river down to Costa Rica and I am wondering if I can’t get out paddling, maybe wading/swimming would work? Is this a naive and stupid idea

Are you a stronger swimmer than…
you are a kayaker?

I haven’t tried your experiment, but I do know that I can get past pushier waves and current while paddling than I can while swimming.

If you can’t paddle out thru minor surf
you are not ready for this trip. And not, that is likely a poor idea because of how that loaded boat is going to behave when it is getting knocked around by the waves.

only one case where it helped me

– Last Updated: Jul-14-12 6:36 PM EST –

I was on a steep beach of head sized stones with a 3 foot shore break (breaking almost right at the shore). I didn't want to seal launch with my glass boat which I would need to do to have my skirt on before launch so I swam out. Just barely cleared a wave 40 feet from shore then climbed in. Wasn't easy swimming pushing the boat and wearing a PFD. Generally it's always easier to be skirted up and launch from shore. There are techniques that make it easy most of the time but they take learning and practice. Timing, boat control and bracing are key skills.

Find out how big the surf normally is. Most relative beginners can learn to push through two foot surf pretty quick. As it gets bigger it depends a lot on things like how steep the beach is. Also will you have a well skilled guide since that could help -- I've coached many newbies through under three foot surf with good results.

Try using a pier or jetty …

I’ve used this technique a few times and it’s a bit dicey.

Honestly you can launch a sea kayak into large impressive surf if you know what you are doing. You should plan on getting some ocean kayaking experience before you you plan to paddle several hundred miles of open coast.

Oh Man… Stokin’!!!
The boardies and goatboaters were playing well with each other. :slight_smile:

How to launch in surf - simple. Read, watch and practice, practice, practice. Like a few of us, you may actually get to point of not just wanting to get through the surf but to stay and play in the surf. The bigger the better.


I wouldn’t
I wouldn’t try to wade the kayak out. The surf would grab the boat right from you.

If you haven’t yet, take a surf zone class. And find a way to practice.

A new alternate surf launch method is starting to show up here in NorCal, called a speed launch. Good for dumpy beaches. basically you throw the boat in front of you, dive on its back, coast out past the break, and then do a cowboy scramble to get into your cockpit. makes for rather amusing launches as people are learning.

It seems like it may be possible to throw the boat out past the break, tied to your tow rope, and then you swim out to it. But if it doesn’t make it past the break, it could be ugly.