Old Town Otter FLIP

I have an old town Otter 9’ 6". A friend of mine was using it and flipped over on a small but deep creek. He dragged himself to the bank safely. What do you with a small kayak filled with water? He pulled it to the bank and lifted it to get the bulk of the water out. I dont have a water pump. If I was out in a lake I wouldnt know what to do. The kayak doesn’t allow for a roll it just dumps you out. Thanks for any help. Does anyone know of a web page that has good basic water safety info?

You’ve discovered one…
of the limitations of the ‘pumpkin seed’ boats.

They hold a lot of water and are reluctant to give it up.

With a bulkheaded sea kayak, one lifts the bow to discharge the water. The smaller the cockpit volume the easier this is to do. The little rec boats are tough this way - lots of volume in there. A hand pump is an option but thats a lot of pumping. Consider installing float bags fore and aft. This helps to reduce the volume of water taken on. If you decide on this tactic, we’ll be more than happy to advise on the ins and outs of doing so.

Don’t do big crossing in this kind of boat. If the weather turns you cannot make distance fast enough to escape the conditions.

When enjoying your lake always keep in mind your rescue protocol. Are you too far from shore to swim your boat in if you capsize? The colder the water or the more unstable the weather will effect your decision and distance from terra firma.

The little rec boats are a great way to enter the world of kayaking but recognise their limitations and be honest with yourself about yours.

Keep an eye on conditions, dress for immersion, have a worst case scenario plan, and then go enjoy your paddling experience.

Pleasant waters to ya.


put airbags
in the bow and stern (as big as you can cram in there) to help displace water and add flotation. You should also have some sort of bailing device on hand, even if its an old bleach bottle with the end cut off. Most of the time Otters and Swiftys turn over because they get squirelly due to swamping. The quicker you get the extra water out while you are still upright, the better off you are.

have to agree
Had the OT Rush which is a very slight upgrade from the Otter and ended up putting in a float bag behind the seat that filled up the compartment completely and had cut up foam noodles in the front in a mesh bag…don’t recommend that though…get another float bag for the front as big as you can make it. This will ensure that your cockpit will stay above the water line if you capsize. A bailer will really help to get a lot of water out fast but if you don’t have the float bags, you will be there forever…not a good idea in cold weather.


If you are in the middle of a lake
you are screwed!

You need to swim it to shore, and then bail it

We use a gallon jug with the bottom cut off and a piece of rope tied to the handle and the yak as a bailer.

It is pretty hard to tip one of those over unless you are a very overweight person or unless you are in class III WW.

I added drains and plugs on the top end of the stern on ours for getting the remainder of the water out.



float bags
you can also use a dry bag with your dry stuff as a float bag, but they have to be tied in. A small pump & sponge to get the water out if its a small amount. In a running river, the floatation bag is the only way to go. They displace a lot of water, and allow the craft to ride a bit higher in the water when swimming it to shore. I paddled in a group with a SYT who didn’t have bags in her kayak on a class 2-3 run. she flipped & swam. Her boat was at least a mile below before we finally got it to shore. If it hadn’t been filled with water it would have been beached much quicker.

Thanks…Truelly limited
Thanks for the suggestions. I think I do have to be a bit realistic about the boat and what I should be doing with it. I will look into a float bag for the back and something for bailing.

I have 2. my wife and I go out fishing in them in smaller bodies of water but I am tempted, severly tempted to go in the back bay areas and fish. I might need to reconsider safety first. Thanks

Attaching items to boats
A word of warning about attaching things to your kayak with rope. A friend had a sponge tied inside the kayak with light nylon twine. After being pinned to a rock in a small rapid the kayak swamped and the twine wrapped around his leg preventing escape. He was only stuck in the boat a short time but was still very unhappy about it. If you paddle in any type of rapids loose ropes can lead to trouble. I like the idea of a bailer for use on the lake but plan to tuck it under the deck rigging instead of using a rope. Just my opinion.

amen to that
and that goes for paddle leashes too. My daughter dumped in a class I that was running pretty swift, the paddle leash wrapped around her arm and dragged her through the rest of the rapid intil she could get her feet under her and free herself.We were all wondering from the bank where she had learned to swim so fast and telling her to let the boat go not knowing she was hung up. Turned out comically but it could have been bad if the boat had gotten pinned or she had been caught in debris.

my two cents
A web site for safety and information, you are on it. This is the place. Experience and gumption is what this site is full of. Floatation in an otter is a good idea, there isn’t much room in them so strive for comfort as best you can. You shouldn’t be out tipping it over in lakes too often, so this is just an insurance measure for your later ease of emptying. Along the lines about bailers, mine are just old milk jugs with a little bit of rope tied to the handle, and a bit of pool-noodle on the rope. This way it is not tied in the boat, but I won’t lose it either.

I flipped my old “Classic 12” in a pond; swore I wouldn’t do that again. It weighed a ton. Looked into bulkheads…boat was stolen before they were installed.

I flipped my OT Rush, swore I would get floatation. Flipped my Rush again…swore at myself for not getting floatation bags.

my friends flipped my Solo Plus, Garen-damn-tee I am getting bags for that one. I am NOT bailing until it is light enough for two people to flip again. That sucks.

So you can survive without foat bags, but I have a pretty strong back since I never buy them…other toys always get the money first.


Take my $.01 with a grain of salt as I don’t have any time in them, but airbags might give you a little bit of oxygen in the cockpit, thus giving you a chance to roll it. It looks like some of them wouldn’t be very difficult to roll. Once you learn to roll…you’ll be more relaxed at the hips, preventing that bell-buoy form.

Rope in a boat
Wha Ho, Pilgrims:

Me 2 pieces o’ wampam - if ye have a rope in a boat, ye should have somethin’ handy ta cut it wit too…

Fat Elmo

Our Otter was flipped only once…
…, by a grandson when he was 8. I think he got too much weight over the side. His little bro, my wife, and I have all used it w/out flipping. Calm water only, of course.

Otter is the WORSE
The O.T. Otter is the worse kayak made, period.


(yak dealer)

What a stupid statement !
go tell that to the handful of the people I saw enjoying them yesterday.

They had grins from ear to ear.

You must sell Perception or Dagger, or one of those other “worst Kayaks made”



Fact or opinion?..
…and did you mean worsT?

Bit “nit picky aren’t we”

Completely irresponsible statement. An argument could be made for it being the best kayak out there as it probably is as responsible if not more so than most for getting people interested in the sport and upgrading to more refined or specialized equipment.

example: I started out in the OT Rush (an otter with a half sprayskirt) and within a month was in a Tempest 170. I never would have made a single jump to a bigger sea kayak without the Rush (or Otter)

Your comment makes me wonder if you have bad blood with Old Town?

I personally am grateful that there are boats out ther like the Otter who get people on the water, off their asses and participating in a sport that is nothing but good for them at a reasonable price point.


OT Otter
I love my Otter. It DID make me go miles around my river and bay. Of course I had a spray skirt and a cut up milk bottle but I never flipped and had a great time. I now have a Dagger and DID flip in a small creek to avoid poison ivy. I paddled in an almost full kayak after siding back in, holding my weight steady till I reached a grassy shore,then dumped the water. I still love my otter for never turning on or against me.

I didn’t know that “bollocks” had made it into the US Vocabulary.