Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceAnother Way to Get into Your
By Tamia Nelson
It's like I've said before: you step into a canoe, but you put a
kayak on. In an earlier
article for GuideLines, I described the most common method.
It's usually referred to as the "paddle-bridge," and it works well, but
it also requires that you have a wide, gently-sloping launch area.
Unfortunately, not all the world's a beach. Occasionally you have to
launch in a slot between two rocks, for example. What do you do then?
Well, you can attempt a paddle-bridge there, too, stepping off from one
rock and resting your blade on the other. But suppose that the rocks
are swept by gentle surf or by wake-generated waves. Then you'll find
yourself bouncing up and down, while you struggle to keep your paddle
on the rock and your kayak in the slot. That's not easy. Often it's
impossible. What do you do next?
How about "squat-and-scoot"? That's what I call it, anyway. It won't
work everywhere, and it will give you a few new scratches on your boat
every time you use it, but it's another tool in your tool-box.
Sometimes it's the only tool that works.
Here's how it's done. Line your boat up in the slot, with your
bow pointing inland. With luck, you'll be able to float the
stern. Now straddle your boat, placing your feet close to the rear edge
of the cockpit. Next, squat, holding on to the front of the cockpit
coaming with one hand. (If you have your paddle clipped into a bracket,
you can use both hands.) Once your butt's hovering over the rear deck,
look over your shoulder, just to make sure that no monster wave's
headed your way and that Jaws isn't lurking offshore. All clear? Good.
Kick off with your feet while you pull back with your hand(s), and plop
your bum into the seat as it scoots by beneath you.
Once you're afloat, get your paddle in the water. Then, when you're
clear of the shore, brace and tuck your legs in where they belong, one
at a time. You're done.
Easy? Not really. But practice makes perfect. Begin with your boat
floating in shallow water. (You'll get your feet wet, but so what!)
When you've got the timing right, you're ready to graduate to a real
Once you're on the beach, there are a couple of things to keep in
mind. Squat-and-scoot is a Very Bad Idea in dumping surf. You don't
want a big, breaking wave hammering your chin down onto your bow deck,
do you? Not likely! If you have to launch through big wavesand
this is Experts Only countryyou want to be facing out. At least
you'll be able to see what's coming.
There's another thing to remember. Some kayaks have such small
cockpits that even an Olympic gymnast would have a hard time tucking
her legs in once she's afloat. In this case, about all you can do is
sit on the rear deck while you squeeze your legs into place, and then
hunch and wiggle your way forward until you can get your butt in the
seat. DON'T try this with a fiberglass kayak, though. Not many have
decks that are strong enough. (In fact, I'm not sure I'd risk it in
some plastic boats, either, unless their decks were supported by a wall
or by tightly-packed gear bags.) You'll probably also need some sort of
external prop while you're balancing on the rear deck and struggling to
tuck your feet in. If the water's shallow, you may be able to use your
paddle, held vertically. If notif, for example, the water's
not shallow, or if there's any surf to speak oflook for
someplace else to launch.
OK. It takes some practice, and it isn't particularly graceful, but
squat-and-scoot sometimes works when nothing else will. You can't have
too many tools in your tool-box, can you? 'Nuff said.
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