long legs

I look at all these methods for self rescue and getting back into my kayak just about all of them require your butt to get into the seat first. Well, if I get my butt into my seat first, I will spend the rest of the trip with my feet in the water because my legs are too long to get in that way. Even getting in by the shore requires me to straighten my legs and slide into my boat before I sit down.

Many show a ‘legs first’ entry
Many that I’ve seen demonstrated and that I have tried have a legs first entry into the cockpit - often face down and the corkscrew into the upright position in the seat. Here’s an example around here:


"Hey doc, it hurts when I do this"
Doctor says, “Well don’t do that”.

That tired old joke popped into my head because it seems to me that you need to focus on the methods that don’t fall into the “just about all of them” category.

The only method I’ve ever seen demonstrated involved foot-first re-entry (the reason I’ve only seen one method is that I have no need to worry about that exact problem myself). Anyway, it’s not just your long legs. Anyone having a narrow boat and small cockpit faces the same problem.

rescues are easier butt first, but…
Rescues are easier butt first, as this gets your center of gravity down lower. But they can be done feet first - it just takes more balance.

The paddle float reference of an earlier response was one option. In that case, the paddle float provides additional balance.

Scramble or similar can also be done, but you have to get up on back deck and then get feet in straight in front of you and then slide in. Takes good balance, a good brace, or both.

The re-enter and roll is also good, so you slide in and sit down before trying to roll. the smaller cockpit and having to slide in may seem a little harder to get in upside down at first, but once in, the fact that your legs are more locked will likely help on the roll.

I know several ways to get in…
While I know several ways to reenter a kayak, they are all done feet first. Seems to me that “butt first” reentry is not that common. I’m 6’4" and I can do that butt first thing, but it costs me some skin off my shins. That’s my problem. Yours if finding some resources to teach you feet-first entries. That shouldn’t be hard.


Butt first will be impossible for
many very tall people. No kayak I have ever owned has allowed me to plop my butt on the seat and then get my legs forward into the bow. I wish “knowledgeable” people would catch on to this when instructing.

I laid up a custom large keyhole rim on a composite boat, and I still couldn’t get my legs forward with my rear end on the seat. It’s a simple matter of geometry. And it’s one of the reasons I regard the solo re-entry as much less practical than rolling.

Self rescue using a paddle float

– Last Updated: Feb-06-14 6:28 AM EST –

if done correctly require the feet/legs to go in first.
1. get the boat up right and pump out as much water as you can
2. blow up the paddle float and attach it to the paddle blade
3.lay the paddle shaft behind the coaming with the long end/paddle float out in the water.(have the shaft under a side safety line
4. with you beside the cockpit facing the rear of the boat, swim/wiggle/squirm yourself up onto the rear deck, with your chest flat against the deck and when your butt is about at the rear of the seat roll yourself over and at the same time put your legs down into the front under the coaming.
(You should be leaning on the paddle shaft/paddle float side while you are going this, or you boat might tip over the opposite side)
5. Finish sliding yourself in
6. Pump the rest of the water out and you are good to go

Jack L

Yup, long legs = feet first, usually

– Last Updated: Feb-06-14 11:02 AM EST –

Besides self rescue, which is anyway much easier to do with a reentry and roll (if you have a roll), bum first is just a better way to enter a kayak and bum last - to exit. Faster and error-proof when you need it in a hurry at the beach or to get the sand off your feet and not put it in the cockpit.

There are some things you can do like move the seat a couple of inches to the rear on a kayak with a cockpit that otherwise is almost long enough. This has so far allowed me to fit bum first in WS Tempest 170 and Zephyr 155 and 160, Delphin 15.5 etc. You can also roll or shave the inner lip on the cockpit rim on some kayaks, giving you that little extra to fit bum first. Did that on my Nordkapp RM and with the seat to the rear I can now sit in it bum first, barely and barefoot only. In boats like it, with somewhat high rear cockpit rim that is for some dumb reason close to the seat, this restricts layback for rolls (not a problem in the Zephyr as its deck is low and away from the seat).

Fast touring kayaks like Epic 18x and Valley Rapier do have longer cockpits too - they are designed to be paddled with knees together for power and ergonomics in a straight line. Many newer designs for large people like the P&H Cetus MV and HV have nice and long cockpits too, so if you have not checked them out, see if they are an option

Other than that, I hear you most kayaks are for short and normally tall people. Anything over 36" inseam is a problem, especially if you have footwear, which further raises your heels and effectively lengthens your shin to a point where you might not fit a boat you did fit barefoot. As much as I like having some footwear, I have resigned to paddle barefoot in most of the sea kayaks that i have owned over the years.

I am 6’4" too
And I don’t have a problem entering my Pygmy Coho butt first. In fact, that is the ONLY way I get in my Coho. I find the feet first entries difficult and precarious.

I guess it all depends on 1. your flexibility; and 2. the length of your cockpit opening. If I ever have problems entering my Coho butt first, I’ll just get a kayak with a bigger cockpit opening.

I’m 6’6" but I can fit my legs in my Cetus Classic cockpit.

In other boats, my preferred re-entries, depending on conditions are:

a) Re-enter and roll. Fast, but leaves a lot of water in the boat. Also requires you have a roll.

b) Scramble, sit on back deck, scull for support, feet in first.

c) Paddle float as traditionally taught. Belly on back deck, feet in cockpit, weight leaning heavily onto paddle and float.

Legs first in self-rescues
I don’t know what videos you have been looking at, but if it is not clear that the legs go in first you either need better videos or some in-person help.

It happens to be possible for me to climb up over the back deck, seat plop in then pull my legs in, because I have shorter legs. And if I want to laze around in calm water I might do that for a stretch rather than bother to get out of the boat. But that is not the recommended way because it takes a bit longer to get all of you in and ready to skirt up. When in doubt, the fastest way to get to having that skirt pulled up wins. That is legs first and rotate them into the boat, the butt follows.

What Kocho Said

– Last Updated: Feb-23-14 6:05 AM EST –

I'm not very tall but my very tall friends do well in my kayaks because I move the seats back. Add to his list the Alchemy.

The routine getting in and out of my boats I always do butt first. Every self rescue I can do is feet first. I never could do that cowboy thing.

One option

– Last Updated: Feb-23-14 8:07 AM EST –

Yes, Americans can be tall. I'm 6'2" and I had to move the bulkhead forward on a Valley and P&H.

I can sit in an Explorer and usually get my knees past the coaming with some gentle pulling in with my hands.

Learn to bridge your paddle off the back of the boat on the water so you can lift yourself up and get your legs in. That way if you find a reentry is easier for you butt first, you can use that and once in the boat, lift yourself up using the paddle as a brace to get your legs in.

In other words, you're holding the paddle against the back of the coaming with a blade on the water to brace as you lift yourself up and into the boat. Use a slight lean towards the paddle blade. A little practice and you'll do it easily.