Wet exits and edging in my new (to me) Capella

The spray skirt for my new (to me - actually 2004) Cappella 166 RM came in yesterday, so I asked my buddy Bill to spot for me at local pond while I did some wet exits. It turns out that swimming out of a canoe for years is good practice for doing wet exits in a kayak. I did one without the skirt, one with the skirt, and popped out both times. Bill said that I was out of the boat so fast that I didn’t even get one side of my body wet. A bit of an exaggeration, but I was out fast and I don’t like being upside-down in the water. I need to work on that if I am ever going to learn to roll.

We did a leisurely paddle around the pond and I tried to practice some edging. I used Bill’s bow to figure out where the secondary stability was, and tried paddling some circles on an outside edge – it worked. I was able to paddle circles with sweep and forward strokes. Even without paddling, the boat was turning away from the side that I edged – pretty cool. Definitely going to take some practice for me to get used to these outside edge turns, but I am beginning to see where the skill in sea kayaking comes from.

Practicing at Lincoln Woods


The boat looks like a good volume fit (based on the freeboard) for you as day tripping boat. You can still pack some gear but you don’t look like you have excess volume that contributes to cocking problems.

See you on trip soon. :slight_smile:

PS. Go out on the pond on a windy day (15-20 knots) and see which way it cocks. Bring along some weight along (liter water bottles) that you can put aft or fore to mitigate the cocking. This way you get to know more of the boat’s tendency before you get out on the ocean in more challenging wind/wave conditions.



The boat seems to be a good fit - I am still playing around to get the pegs right.

One of the hardest things is getting in and out of the boat. I’ve dumped twice - once getting in, once getting out. Still working on that “lean on the paddle” thing.

Spoiled with open boats for all these years. :wink:

In terms of leaning on the paddle, the paddle can take a lot more weight that you probably think it can.

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Then snap :scream::flushed:


Good work getting out there and digging into wet exits and edging.

Re: wet exits, I did exactly the same thing you describe when I started practicing them. I pulled the loop off even before my head hit the water. This is OK for now. After you do more of them, make yourself actually hang upside-down for a few seconds with the skirt sealed. If you are easily pulling the loop forward and then up/off, you will have plenty of time and breath to pause, THEN remove the skirt, and pop up for more air.

Why should you practice this way? Because after you later learn to roll, you will want to learn re-enter and roll. (Just another one of the many ways to get back in the saddle again!) And with re-enter and roll, you need to be comfortable hanging upside-down long enough to make sure you are sitting centered in the seat with both feet on the pegs before you begin rolling up. This is especially important if you do the reverse-somersault version of re-enter and roll.

You don’t HAVE to learn every method of capsize recovery, but it makes a bigger toolkit for when problems occur. I also get the feeling you would enjoy all the things that can be done.

I enjoy reading how people who are committed to learning progress. Nice start!


Don’t lean on the paddle too much, because as PaddleDog52 implied, expensive things can happen. It does work great to give you that little extra stability though. What are you doing when getting in and out? Getting in, I straddle the boat, set my butt down in the seat, then bring my feet in one at a time. Getting out I’m usually parallel to the shore, I set my paddle shaft behind my cockpit combing and sticking out toward shore, lift my butt out of the seat and sit on the paddle shaft, then put my feet in the water.


I have a modified ocean cockpit. I can’t get my legs in if I sit in the seat first. I have to balance on the deck and bring my feet into the cockpit before sliding off the deck into my seat. I practiced balancing on the back deck and bringing my feet in and out while staying on the deck. the higher center of gravity makes this position very tippy. The practice improved my balance. I do use my paddle out to the side if the water is rough, but I try to keep much weight off of the paddle while using it to stabilize the boat.

Congrats on the new stuff! Yeah, the warmer the water is the less hurry to get to the surface. Practice relaxing and doing your wet exits slowly and deliberately.

If you really want to get into rolling and bracing (for safety reasons and to just PLAY) I’d suggest getting a Greenland paddle.

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At the kayak class I took last week they asked us to stay upside down in the boat and bang on the sides of the boat above the water. I was in a boat with a with a huge cockpit and no thigh braces, so that wasn’t going to happen - I fell right out. I’m sure I could do it in this boat. I have a friend who coaches at a Monday night rolling practice in CT. Mostly WW paddlers, but he said I could bring this boat and give it a try. We’ll see.

Cockpit on my boat isn’t small (34” x 20"), but if I sit in the seat first I can’t get my legs in.

Cockpit with new thigh braces and back band

Like castoff I sit on the back deck, get my legs in and then slide down into the seat. Getting out is the opposite - get my legs free, slide up on to the back deck and then swing my legs over. It is very unstable sitting on the back deck. I think the paddle would help, but I just haven’t gotten the positioning down. If I put the boat parallel to the shore in shallow water it is a little easier, but I know I’m not always going to be able to do that. Like everything else, sounds like it is just going to take some practice.

It is so easy to get in/out of an open boat that I used to make fun of kayakers about this - old picture from 2010 - no I didn’t try to paddle it that way…

sitting in corseca


Thanks Trucker, that is what I was trying to imply and should have said.

Yes, exactly. Once you get comfortable existing in shallow water, you will find existing in less ‘ideal’ spots gets easier.

This all sounds great!
Getting in by sitting in a boat then pulling legs in tends to be more problematical for bigger people where body parts just don’t fit to do that. One thing that you may want to mess with, especially since this works for taller docks as well, is to be sitting on the deck just behind the cockpit then slide into the seat.

The part about calmly staying under the boat, with your legs in it, is the preamble to rolling that took me over a year to manage. Turns out I can be under water all day long swimming but having my legs staying inside the boat produced a very claustrophobic response. That is a matter of time and patience with yourself, and getting good help to avoid imprinting poor body mechanics that go with it. It can still come back on me.

General hot weather fun w a sea kayak is to practice crawling around on the deck bow to stern and stern to bow, see if you can get used to balancing up there without swimming. Do this in shallow water to start because there will be much swimming at first. But it is a simple exercise that actually gives you back a lot from self-rescues to getting in and out of the boat in less than ideal locations. One time getting off of Thief Island in Maine I had to drop onto my back deck then slide into the boat from rocks on either side, between minor surges. It was far from my preferred situation, but the tide was different from when we landed the day before and the only way to launch our boats was from this foolishness.



I need my hands to get in position on the back deck. Once my hands are free, I can use the paddle in deeper water to provide bracing or sculling to bring my feet out. once they are out, I then hang them over the side which adds stability. It does take practice. Balance is the key.

A boat loaded for camping can feel more stable if the heavy items are on the bottom of the boat.

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Regarding entering the boat. In my old boat, I could sit down, then retract my legs. But with my current boat, I am just a bit too long legged to do this.

I started out in the new boat by sitting on the back deck, which worked fine. And I used the paddle as a stabilizer. But as I got used to that technique, I actually found I didn’t really need to be back that far, and I gravitated to sitting across the cockpit opening, just in front of the back band, with my butt partially below the cockpit rim. This gives me more stability and enough room to get my legs in. I find that with this position for entering, I don’t need the paddle for stabilizing the boat, and now usually just hold it against the side of the boat as I get in, unless the waves are higher and coming crosswise.

I use a seals 1.2 skirt on this boat. After many years I cut off the built-in thigh braces on my boat as I did not need them. It made it easier to enter the boat. I saved the cut off parts if I wanted to glass them back in the future. I see you can remove yours if you find you don’t need them.



Makes it easy to know hands won’t slip if you put pressure. I had few gelcoat fractures on back deck so I put non-skid. On another boat I put two octagon shaped patches. When I installed wide base seats in the CD kayaks I throw two layers of mat on back deck and on floor of cockpit area. Stiffens it all up. Worth the 1 or 2 pounds or less to me. I’m 240 so it nice to know it won’t bow with my weight on it.

I think every CD hull I have has slight gelcoat fractures behind the cockpit.


Over the years I’ve heard folks here talk about edging into the outside of a turn, but I never really knew what you were talking about. There is a freestyle canoeing move called a post that involves an outside edge heal, but I didn’t think that it was any more effective than its inside edge counterpart the axle, so I rarely did it. The only time I ever use an outside edge heal in my canoes is for a sideslip with a sculling draw.

After being out in my new Capella a couple of times, I now know what you mean by edging to the outside of the turn. This boat responds to an outside edge heal in a way that my canoes don’t. Raise the leg in the direction that you want to move (or drop the outside edge) and the boat will gradually turn in that direction. Add a forward sweep and the boat turns faster. Adjust the edging while paddling forward and you can make subtle turns without resorting to correction stokes.

I went back to a local pond and set up the camera to do some more off side edge circles. My edging technique needs work (I think the pegs are still too loose), but the boat definitely turns. There were times when I had locked in a good off side edge and I could feel the stern skidding through the turn. I also did some shoreline paddling using only forward strokes and outside edge turns to follow the shoreline.

I still get confused about which way to edge – raise the leg in the direction that you want to go seems to be the easiest for me to remember. Its definitely not intuitive yet, and is the exact opposite of what I have always done, but I’ll get there eventually. Hopefully I won’t screw-up my whitewater boating in the process.

The video is painful to watch - even for me, but speed it up 20x and it is a little entertaining.


Love the speeded up version!

My recall is that the edge set in a WW boat is hugely impacted by the direction in which the water is flowing. So take away moving water and things could change a bit. Add in that WW boats are maneuverable enough to respond on either edge at times, the sea kayak gets a bit more picky.

That said, the Romany and similarly very maneuverable sea kayaks actually will carve things in a given direction on either edge as long as the paddle work also conforms to the chosen edge.

It is easy to get things backwards in making some changes. I spent my longest time in sailboats owned by others on the tiller. Then we had friends who put me on a wheel in their sailboat. Lots of fishtailing for the first bit in the wind because the wheel works backwards from the tiller.

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Just a subsequent PS… reacting primarily to the flow of moving water is why anyone with a WW background tends to have an advantage over long boaters without that in tidal races. A lot of tidal races come in roughly equivalent to class 2/3 whitewater. The first hour or so of sea kayakers without any WW background in a tidal race tends to involve some rescues until everyone learns to set very aggressive edges. (on the correct side)

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I can see that - leaning into the current (outside the turn) is pretty much always going to result in the same thing - I swim with the fishes.