ocean cockpit

A year or so ago, I paddled an Anas Acuta and fell in love. Not a fast boat, but comfortable and handles like a dream. I didn’t buy it at the time because I was afraid of dying in the ocean cockpit. Now I’m a year older, that much better a paddler, and the happy owner of said Anas Acuta. The boat is everything I hoped it would be, but sure enough, the ocean cockpit is a problem for my very long legs (36" inseam).

I tried a couple of wet exits on the first day, and no problem. But doing the assisted re-entry was tough – I found I couldn’t spin in the cockpit! There just isn’t enough room for one leg to cross over the other unless I’m sitting way back on the day hatch. I know, I know, I should be rolling it, not bailing out, but I want to be ready for anything.

So, to the questions: Are there tricks for easing the difficulty of doing an assisted re-entry? And is a paddlefloat re-entry even a possibility? Is it possible to do a dock launch (low dock) with an ocean cockpit? At the local beach using a keyhole cockpit, I normally do a floating launch without paddle assistance. Is this possible in an ocean cockpit? Finally, a very comfortable foam block came with the boat, to be glued under the foredeck for bracing with the knees. Will installing this make all of the above even harder?

How about a Pintail?
With a keyhole cockpit? Great boat. Almost (with the exception of the hard chines) an AA. I have one and love it over all the other boats I’ve tried.

Happy paddling.


Can you do a re-enter and roll?
You can do it assisted with another boat or use a paddle float on your paddle if your roll isn’t 100%

I find climbing onto a boat in rough conditions challenging no matter how big the cockpit is. But a re-enter roll is the quickest option and if done correctly you won’t take on much water (putting your skirt on underwater and not letting the coaming come above the surface)

entering ocean cockpit

– Last Updated: May-21-04 11:23 PM EST –

For a partnered rescue you need a partner who is leaning on your boat, with your deck in their armpit. they should be so committed to your boat that if it disappeared they would be over no question. Far too few paddlers properly commit to the assistee's boat during an assisted rescue, so they offer little real support, and would be lucky to pull off a rescue in interesting situations.

With real suppport, you enter the ocean cockpit by sitting on the back deck, inserting your feet and scooting in, same as off a dock or any other place. Your assistant is holding your coaming either side with hands as wide apart as possible with their trunk (or at least armpit) on your boat.

Mr. Derek hutchnson had us stabilize eachother's boats and the "assistee" stood up in the cockpit. This is a great exercise for learing to do rescues where it counts. reenter and roll is not anywhere near as fast to a dry boat as a good T rescue IMHOP. In mild breaking surf or between breaks having to paddle out with a full cockpit is tough for me. Just ask my friends who watch me go over when the cockpit was full! (oops)

Things are always easier with another

– Last Updated: May-22-04 12:28 AM EST –

to help you out. But you can dump the water out of your boat or pump the boat dry and re-enter by your lonesome.

A flooded boat is very unstable but people forget you can use a paddle float for stability while you pump or even leave it there and paddle with your spare.

Your point about some paddlers not giving good support is true and that's why you rely on yourself first and get back into your boat quickly stable or unstable you're better off.

A re-enter and roll is the fastest by far!

Another reason for relying on yourself is that every time conditions get tough groups get spread apart and assistance may be far away or not even aware that you're capsized. Even worse everyone in the group may be capsized and in need of assistance.


Practice, practice, practice self and group rescues!

Sorry, Rolling Or Re-entry and Roll

– Last Updated: May-22-04 5:40 AM EST –

are the best ways to deal with that ocean cockpit. The foam piece under the fordeck can act as a "masik" and give you better contact, and thus better control of the boat for sculling, bracing and rolling.

With my SOF, I can't do a paddle float rescue because of the ocean cockpit and the low volume. I get on the backdeck and the boat is semi-submerged. I have to do a reentry and roll and pump out.

Getting in and out - put the boat in the shallow deck, use the paddle as an outrigger on the back of the coaming and slide in. In surf, I'll get into the boat at the edge of the water and then slide into the surf. I have never tried to get in to boat from a dock where the boat is lower than the dock. If the dock and the boat is relatively the same height, I don't have a problem in using the paddle as outrigger, laying across the back deck and the dock and sliding in. When the boat is lower than the dock, I elect to get in the boat on the dock and seal launch.


I agree and disagree

– Last Updated: May-22-04 8:45 AM EST –

I agree. One should practice self rescues a lot! One is responsible for one's own safety in the end. Reenter and roll is cetainly faster to get in the boat. Getting (or choosing to be) spread out a bit in conditions is certainly one reason that self rescue is important, certainly a good paddler can ofter reenter and roll (especially wiht a paddle float) in conditions where they could not reliably paddle float rescue. I am in no way advocating forgetting about self rescue practice. I am advocation assiated rescues when competent assistance is available. I am advocating training and boat handling skills to make it available

Certainly reenter and roll is faster to get in the boat but it is not faster to a dry boat with the usual equipment, if competant assistance is available. Hand pumping is a task, and a hand pump solo in conditions is not great fun, or fast, and leaves my arms quite tired. Guess I should get a foot pump, which is goood for all solo paddlers who venture oute when life gets interesting.

Of course rolling is the way but if that is going on the re entry question does not come up.

With great respect to my friend Sing, (who has 5000 times as much time in ocean cockpits as I). Very few paddle as low volume boats as you, and you certainly prefer to be fully self reliant and to paddle with those who are. Very few using an ocean cockpit pintail or ellesmere put a masik into it. By the time they have, they will not be asking about how to get in.

My largest point, a competent T rescue should take under one minute to a dry boat. (I believe that is the minimum ACA instructor criteria) If the capsize was due to conditions, the wait during pumping after a reenter and roll is not so good for the members of a group who must either spread out further or hang out idling in conditions. If somebody is around who knows what they are doing, please accept help. If nobody is around, better hope your practice was good. Practice, practice, practice, everything you can as if your life depended on it. Unless they are in service or competition a martial artist might never use their skills where where their life might depend on it, but a sea kayaker knows that theirs will eventually.

You were certainly
correct on all of your points, mine were just a little different.

I just finished my own design
and I put a lot of thought into the cockpit size. I’ts an S&G and very similar to my SOF. I weighed the pluses and minuses to the small cockpit. I didn’t want to design things to be just like a Greenland boat. I wanted to design my own boat in a Greenland style.

I finally decided that the small opening would be best for me. No I can’t easily get into it or out of it but when out on the water this is a good thing in my opinion, after having fallen out of larger cockpits.

I also made the cockpit area of the smallest volume possible. I doesn’t hold much water and I’m guessing it will paddle ok swamped (I’ll test that tomorrow.

Coming out of a boat that is hard to get into can be a dangerous situation. So the best thing to do is to make sure you can get into your boat reasonably quick, and second you must work on not coming out at all.

Coming Out Is “Bad”

– Last Updated: May-22-04 1:41 PM EST –

there is no getting around it from my perspective, as far as my SOF, is concerned. I've tried attaching the skirt while under. I can do this but, as I squirm in, the hull wiggles side to side. By the time I roll up, I have just as much water as if I were to simply reenter and roll.

The plus side of the SOF and small cockpit is that I have yet to feel anywhere near the need to swim at all. Worse comes to worse, I simply arch my back and I am in a balance brace to relax and breathe as much as I need.

It would have to be something really "catastrophic" to get me feel I need to wet exit the SOF.

Like to see your boat, if you have pics. I cut my skin from the SOF and made a template for a future S&G. I have yet to find time to do it. And, right now, I don't want to do any work in the basement shop when so much paddling is to be had.


PS. Talk about "ultra small" ocean cockpit... I saw Maliaqiaq's boat at Walden Pond. His cockpit was a small circle, like 15" diameter.

Yeah I’d hate to have a small cockpit
in a boat that’s hard to roll, scull or balance brace.

I have yet to take any pics of my S&G but I will soon. It’s alittle longer and narrower than the SOF but the lines and depths are very close.

My boats are little bigger than yours. The SOF is 17’6"x20" with lots of rocker (cockpit: 17"x22") and the S&G is 18’x19" (cockpit: 15"x20"). The S&G is far easier to get into even though it has less volume and the same height inside.

Not Disputing The Value Of Assisted
rescues. Indeed, these are good things for folks who like to paddle a lot with other folks. If one relies a lot on paddled float and assisted rescues, I think part of the “safety equation” may be to stay away from ocean cockpits for awhile, until a roll is acquired. I just asserting the observation that ocean cockpits are harder to get into. This not something I would want to struggle with in an assisted or self rescue with a paddle float.

As I mentioned in another “ocean cockpit” thread, I think with a reliable roll, the ocean cockpit can be reassuring. Maybe, I am speaking solely for myself that I find the ocean cockpit reassuring… :slight_smile:


Easier To Get Into

– Last Updated: May-23-04 4:25 AM EST –

because your feet aren't sliding into ribs as you get in, perhaps? :)


Ocean cockpit
Why don’t you try entering the cockpit bum down and face to the sky? I have 2 kayaks with the ocean cockpit and can enter easily on a paddle float or assisted re-entry in one quick motion.

I think climbing up on the rear deck on your belly and then trying to twist around into the cockpit is poor technique,that’s the most unstable part of the recovery.

Just don’t give up on the Anus Acuta,it’s a fine boat and you’ll learn to prefer the ocean cockpit.

If I was ordering a kayak today it would still be the small hole.



One thing…
I didn’t think about when I made my S&G to the same dimensions, is that my heels, toes and knees all pushed up into the skin and made it quite comfortable. Of course that doesn’t happen with plywood. So I’m having a hard time fitting this boat for comfort. It’s a fine fit as long as I’m way back against the coaming but I can’t do a comfortable layback (6.5" deep 1.5-2" freeboard which is just enough for a little secondary stability). I’m sure I’ll work something out (should’ve recessed the coaming).

Face up?
Bert – I’ve never seen anyone do an assisted or paddlefloat rescue face up. Interesting suggestion. Can you describe more fully or direct me to a site with pictures?


face up paddle float rescue
I’ve never done one but I saw it demonstrated in adventure kayak magazine. Do a web search, you can get most of their issues in PDF format.

The BCU T rescue is also done face up. The rescuee comes up between the boats and swings a leg over each.

I have a Nordkapp with an Ocean Cockpit. I still twist into the cockpit but with time and practice, I’ve learned to twist w/ just my feet in the cockpit while keeping my weight low and out over the paddle float. I can then do a quick slide into the cockpit.

My biggest complaint is that the two skirts I’ve found to fit the ocean cockpit just don’t go on that quickly. It’s a bit of a struggle w/ cold hands.

Welcome to the club, Larry.
If you like, I can meet you at Glen Lake sometime with my Anas Acuta and we can work on technique.

I find getting in and out on the water is not a problem. You get used to straddling the deck and with minimal support (such as a Greenland paddle stuck in the deck rigging), it’s pretty easy to do a cowboy re-entry from the stern. Most of the time when I enter the boat, I float it out into knee deep water and enter by sitting on the paddle for balance while straddling the deck, then sliding into the cockpit.

Entering from a high dock can be tricky, but you can use the same method of sitting on the paddle for balance. It doesn’t work as well with most Euro paddles (it should work fine with paddles with foam core blades), but it’s do-able. If you have reasonable support that you can hang from, such as a dock cleat or a ladder, you can sometimes lower yourself completely into the boat.

Give it time and you’ll adapt. The Anas Acuta is such a nice boat that it’s worth the effort it takes to get comfortable with it. Although I’ve been paddling the Pintail for the training sessions the past few weeks, I’ll be back in the AA as soon as they’re done.

Ocean cockpit re-entry
Hi Larry,

Yeah, I can’t twist in the ocean cockpit of my Ellesmere either. For the paddle float entry, I have to twist to the upright position right before my knees clear the front of the cockpit. I’ve only done this in calm conditions so not sure how secure it would be in any kind of conditions. My preference is re-enter and roll if I find myself outside the cockpit somehow :slight_smile:

Haven’t tried a high dock entry yet… let me know if you figure it out!


I’ve done dock entries…
…at the Barking Crab in Boston. It’s amazing what the incentive of good grub and cold beer will do for your exit/entry skills! :wink:

It was fun these past two weeks when training new trip leaders who had never tried to rescue some in an ocean cockpit boat. I took them a while to figure out why I couldn’t just twist around and slide in. In one case, I clambered atop the aft deck, sat up to slide in and the persons I was training ordered me to lay back down on my stomach. I complied and she was a bit embarrassed when she discovered that it doesn’t work that way with an ocean cockpit. Too much fun!