I just got my first kayak a few weeks ago, and I just received my first spray deck today in the mail. I took it out on a local lake, to give the new spray deck a test run; all went well, spray deck was a perfect fit, was able to roll the boat; no problem, however when I tried to re-enter the kayak I found that I was unable to slip back into the cockpit of the boat. I had to swim back to the shore in order to re-enter the boat. I have an OT Sport Kayak, 9’6, 40 lbs. I was wondering how difficult it is for everyone else to re-enter a kayak in the middle of a lake. I have done this same type of entry in my canoe many times, but my canoe is 16 feet long, much heavier and much more stable than my kayak. I am looking for any advice/opinions on this subject.

Happy Paddling,


I would start…
by doing some more reading and maybe take a class.

Either you use a paddle float, or you learn an eskimo roll… preferably both.

Probably not possible

– Last Updated: May-21-05 1:14 PM EST –

An unassisted re-entry in this type of kayak is pretty much impossible. You should not paddle it by yourself farther from shore than you can swim it back. With added flotation in the ends it might be possible to do a paddle float re-entry, but at only nine feet there might not be enough room for enough added flotation to float it high enough for that. Even with another boater to assist, re-entry from deep water when a short recreational kayak is fully swamped can be difficult or impossible. You did it the right way. Stay near shore.

Not clear what you are saying!
Are the replies misunderstanding what you say is the problem? When you say you cannot reenter do you mean you can’t get yourself into the cockpit at all? You cannot get in without putting your head underwater and climbing in by hooking a leg then two then shoehorning yourself in? Clarify for us please.

Your situation as pointed out by the other folks is a real one, these are great boats but with real limitations. Your skills matter and as in recent columns this gets distorted by machodom, etc. However, any boat with little flotation and no bulkheads will take on so much water it is very hard to empty it and a wet reentry and roll is more sluggish, not impossible but tougher. In rougher water, the wider boat filled with water is very low in the water, so pumping it out is also a problem. That is why they are called “death traps” by instuctors and guides. Know its strengths and limits, respect the water and yourself.

But let us know more what you are experiencing.

short boat with no bulkheads
equals high risk in cold deep water. We’re pretty experienced kayakers and last summer I wanted to show friend how to get back into his rec boat after capsizing using a paddle float. Done it a zillion times. But his 10 footer with no floatation or bulkheads made it almost impossible! Had to help him assist me. The other posters are very wise to recommend all you paddlers with these boats to stay close to shore. This brings out an issue the kayak companies need to address-not everyone buys a short rec boat because they are the cheapest route. Many find the length to be all they can handle or transport. But there are so very few boats with rear bulkheads and even fewer with both. And when people buy at Wallyworld there is no one there to tell them that an extra $100 bucks for the bulkhead flotation is the best money ever spent.

Try a cowboy
re entry. I think that was the only self rescue we could work out with that boat. Even that will take some practice. Keep your torso as low to the back of the boat and pull your self up the back deck. Its doable.

xtra floatation
will help. not much room under deck in a Rush though. With the right amount of practice ya can get good at re entry.

My Own Wet Re-entry Experiences
You said you could roll the boat, so I am going to assume you are asking about getting back into the boat upside down then rolling it up. Basically, what you would do if you fell out of the boat going over or had a failure of your roll and decided to get out so you could get focused for your next try. (By the way - there’s no shame in putting the float on the end of the paddle to give you an extra edge.)

If your question is about getting back into the boat when it is upright, the issues in the other posts apply. It is theoretically possible (for guys or taller women) to grab a secure hold on the rear combing and the paddle shaft with their hand to use it as an outrigger and get in from the side with high decks, skimpy rigging and a short rear deck length - but it ain’t easy.

So assuming the boat is upside down at the point you are trying to re-enter… you pretty much have to go in from fully upside down. Your kayak is going to want to be upside down or right side up, unassisted it won’t want to lay on more of a side angle like you can do with some canoes.

Personally, I prefer to grab the two sides of the combing and somersault in, or close to it, though with the tighter fit of my current boat it is a more planned process to get hooked in than it was with the larger cockpit I had before. I also was out last night in a group and switched boats with someone who gets in by doing an upside down and under the boat version of the “scoop” (more prone) position that you have probably used with the canoe. I can’t give you the details since he was doing it under the water, but it seemed to be a good approach for handling a tight fit.

Hope this helps. By the way - getting a roll pretty much right off in a kayak? You must have some bodacious skills in a canoe.

I think they meant
they were able to roll it over. Capsize it, in other words.


re entry upside down
may be tough with a Rush. the cockpit is tight for a rec. boat. If ya got a roll yer better than me.

Cockpit is good, not the problem.
You can definitely lock yourself in with a rush. More padding wouldn’t hurt though. The problem I felt was a hard resistance to coming back up. The “gator” rails in the deck filled with water like ballast tanks and held me there. I think there might have even been a suction effect going on between the rails. You have to take your time if it’s going to happen at all. Cowboy reentries are definitely harder in short boats, and the bigger you are, the closer the water line is going to come to the coaming when you’re coming over the back.


What are you talking about…
You were rolling that Rush faster & easier than you do your own boats…

Paddle easy,


When I tried a reenter and roll I failed
There was water in the cockpit which did exactly what I was saying. It was like somebody was holding me there while I tried to roll…wait a sec…Coffee?

Pumping a problem?
Why is pumping the water out a problem? Do you mean that it rides so low that small waves will continually flood the cockpit?

I have been doing quite a bit of paddling on lakes in my OT Rush as well, and this is a concern to me also. I do try to stay near shore, but sometimes long crossings are unavoidable.

The Rush does have some foam floatation. Should I add a float bag behind the seat and maybe see if I can fit one in the front? I don’t paddle lakes or bays when the water is especially rough, so pumping out water would likely not be a problem.



Cockpit flooding
Some “rec” kayaks float so low when fully swamped that the cockpit rim is UNDER the water, not just near, making pumping out impossible. With these boats, even an assisted “T” rescue can be impossible because the boat is too heavy with water to be lifted over the rescuer’s boat. Take your boat to the beach, fill it up in shallow water, and climb in to see how it floats before attempting rescue practice. Adding flotation can sometimes solve this problem, but as I said above, in a very short kayak there might not be enough space.

The term "wet re-entry"
refers to sliding back into the cockpit while the kayak is UPSIDE DOWN in the water. You said that you’ve done this manuever in your canoe??? I think you may not understand the term.

Do you know what the term “rolling” refers to? It does not refer to tipping your boat over. The term “rolling” refers to flipping your boat back UP while still in the cockpit (by using your paddle and torso).

Back deck?
The type of boat he’s talking about doesn’t really have a back deck to speak of.


None of those 9’-6" rec yaks…
without bulkheads and without air bags can be reentered doing a sel rescue.

The little bit of flotation that is in the bow and stern is just for keeping the swamped yak afloat.

Even if by some quirk you could get in the cockpit, you could never pump it out since you and the whole yak will be submersed.

You have to swim them in then dump the water out.

If you have a tight fitting skirt and can brace your thighs to keep from falling out a expert paddler can roll one, but no expert in the world can get the water out of a submerged one.



let me know how this goes
I have not had a chance to swamp my boat yet. It is the same as yours. I can’t wait for the swim, but I only try to wreck in warm water…it isn’t warm enough yet for me. So I am also keeping my paddling on the timid side and remaining far from anything that might send me under. and which skirt did you buy?

As far as room in there…Holly crap, I put my survival kit in the bow, and it felt like I was in a kid’s boat. My kit is a semi-large first aid kit, with a few extra items, and towel…I didn’t even have the spare clothes in it this time. I was shocked. I know that this is not a tripping boat by any means, but wow, the first aid kit went from the little bit of foam right to the foot pegs.

Well have fun out there and stay close to shore!!


The kayak was not upside down, it was right side up. And yes I do know what the term “rolling” means. I was in about 4 feet of lake water, so I lifted the boat over my head and dumped the water out. However I was unable to get back into the boat (right-side up) without swimming it over to the shore. I think I will try a cowboy style re-entry next time.