Launching: Bow or stren first?

-- Last Updated: Oct-18-09 2:01 PM EST --

I've always launched bow first but have recently seen some more experienced paddlers launching stern first. Is there a reason one way is better/easier/safer that the other?

depends …
if your launching into moving water , maybe bow 1st is a good idea…i guess it depends on the water. otherwise i know of no advantage of one over the other.

whichever works
folks tend to use what is most efficient for the circumstances

Skeg Boats

– Last Updated: Oct-19-09 12:13 PM EST –

With a skeg boat it is often advisable to launch stern first unless you are launching into surf. It helps avoid jamming the skeg box with sand and gravel. Also, If you are using a plastic boat and are sliding off of the bank part of the way, you are stronger pushing yourself off shore backward than trying to pull yourself off shore.


what is most efficient
When we first got our skegged boats, I was advised to launch stern first to avoid jamming the skeg. This worked for me until trying to launch into surf or moving water. Then I found launching bow first was easier (for me).

There’s a trade off
I agree with what you’re doing, as it’s the best way to go, IMO. When launching into surf bow first, I check the function of my skeg once I get past the break. With a group, we’ll all check our skegs as necessary and assist each other freeing them, if it’s required.

check the function of my skeg
Very wise. I’d gotten lazy about checking my skeg after launching and had to paddle my Nordkapp LV in quartering following seas with a jammed skeg for a bit. Quite the pain…

I simply make it a habit to check my skeg operation once after launch.

I still launch stern first when applicable, to minimize the potential of anything getting into the skeg box.

launch backwards
I often launch backwards in surf.

Saves turning the boat around after landing.

Stronger and faster getting off the sand.

Less chance of getting water in the cockpit while fitting the skirt.

With many kayaks the stern is more plumb than the bow, shallower angle at the bow makes the slide smoother, less tippy and less likely to hang up at the last second.

Faster/stronger and less likely to hang up mean I am less likely to be swept sideways by the wave as I am trying to launch.

If the kayak is backwards and floating I can start the kayak moving backward (the desired direction) as I drop on to the seat. If the kayak is facing forwards I generally start it moving towards the beach get stuck again and potentially spun sideways by the next wave.

You guys probably do this but for the
purpose of the thread I’ll make a suggestion for skegs. Drill a hole in the tip of the skeg and tie a length of parachute cord to use as a pully in case it gets stuck. Note the place where the skeg can be found and mark with a china pencil a group member can see and quickly assist. Finally, take a couple of pieces of outdoor non-skid tape and place behind the cockpit where your hands naturally go. Wet and slippery can cost seconds and sometimes that matters. I do this also if there is hardware back there that can gouge, so I have better traction and don’t run into hardware, fittings, etc.


Or reflective strip to mark the spot
I haven’t gotten around to this myself - it is simple but I can be very lazy. But Jim and a couple of others we know have placed a triangle of reflective tape pointing down to where the pull cord comes down from the skeg, placed up along the seam. Extra safety around motor boats and skeg clearing function in one.

That’s a good idea. nm

see other thread
under identical title.

There’s much more detail discussion there.

This is the step-child thread…

A picture

– Last Updated: Oct-21-09 2:44 AM EST –

Here is an image of the marker I put on my Nordlow to indicate skeg location.

I had to drill a hole in ny 2004 Aquanaut skeg as well as my Romany and Celia's Explorer LV. Celia's Vela and my Nordkapp LV came with the hole already drilled for a pull line.

I already knew you guys were cool.nm

Always Bow first!
It’s bad luck to approach the water stern first.

The boat cannot see where it is going and gets nervous.

And a nervous boat wull dump you into the water and rush for shore alone.

So take it bow first. Mount it on the car/trailer first!

rudder away from shore
At a boat launch I usually launch with the stern away from shore to protect it from backing up aginst the cement. In the mohican ski, I feel more solid with feet out of the boat to stabilize me.