Best Foot ForwardGetting into (and Out of) Your Kayak
Canoe or kayakone difference is immediately apparent. You step
into a canoe, but you put a kayak on. Until you've settled down
in your seat, a kayak is a tender, skittish beast. If you try to enter
one in the same way you'd enter a canoe, a swim is almost a certainty.
So how do you do it, then?
First, recall the canoeists' two rules: stay centered and keep your
weight low. That's not much of a problem, is it? Given the size of most
kayak cockpits, you'd have to work hard not to stay centered. As for
keeping your weight lowwell, that's the hallmark of the kayak,
isn't it? You're practically sitting on the floor!
Right. Once you're in, you're in, at least until you blow a brace,
meet a monster wave, or misjudge the location of a rock. It's the
business of getting in that makes things interesting. Entering a
kayak is a little like putting on a tight pair of jeans while you're
still in your sleeping bag. It can be done, but it isn't exactly
straightforward. And it takes a little planning.
The best way for beginners to approach the taskand this method
works for old hands, toois probably the "paddle-bridge" approach.
Simply put, you float your boat out in shallow water, and rest one
blade of your paddle flat on the shore. The paddle shaft goes across
your rear deck, just behind (never on!) the cockpit coaming.
Next, you squat beside your boat, grab the paddle shaft and coaming in
one hand while gripping the shaft lower down with the other,
andsupporting your weight more or less evenly on both
handsshove one leg forward into the cockpit. Then, as your butt
slides over the seat, you pick the other leg up and tuck it in beside
That's it. You're done! All that remains now is for you to balance
your paddle on the front deckor clip it into your
paddle-parkwhile you fit your spray skirt.
Confused? I'm not surprised. Farwell wrote well over a thousand
words trying to describe this slight-of-hand maneuver in an early In
the Same Boat piece, and I don't think he was at all happy with the
result. On the principle that one picture's worth at least a thousand
words, I'll make use of a visual aid, instead:
Does that help? I thought it would. Getting out, of course, simply
involves running the tape back. In or out, it's not as awkward as it
seems. Try it a few times someplace where you're not likely to be
bounced around by the wash from a jet-ski, and you'll soon get the
But suppose you're on a flat, wave-swept beach. What do you do then?
Simple. If the waves aren't too bigand unless you're already out
of your apprenticeship, you don't belong anywhere near really
big wavesyou just park your kayak facing out, far enough down the
beach so that the wash of the next biggish wave will lift you off the
sand. Now get in, and wait for a wave with your name on it to float you
off to your next adventure. If you misjudge, and find yourself high and
dry (and if you don't mind a few scratches on your boat), you can hump
your way down the beach toward the water, supporting your weight on the
knuckles of both hands, or on one hand and the blade of your paddle,
It isn't very graceful, I admit, but then entering and leaving a
kayak seldom is. Once you're on the water, though, your boat will be in
its element. That's what really counts, isn't it? 'Nuff said.
Copyright © 2001 by Verloren Hoop Productions. All