As a kayaker there is one thing that we try our best not to do. That is tipping over. When we tip over we do what is called a ‘wet exit’. This isn’t always a bad thing, but if you are loaded down with fishing equipment, it can be a nuisance, to say the least. Regardless of our situation and equipment we have to get back into the kayak. This can be a difficult, sometimes tedious task. A kayak is not the most stable of watercraft and it takes practice to be able to get back onboard. We will look at the easiest and best method to re-enter a sit-in kayak.
Finding the perfect location to practice
Before we look at the steps you need to follow, we must make sure you have a place in which to practice. A swimming pool is one of the best places to learn, as it is clean, clear and invariably patrolled by lifeguards. If you don’t have a swimming pool, you could go to your favourite swimming hole and give it a try, but we’d advise you to take someone with you, just in case you get into trouble.
The following steps will show you one of the easiest methods for re-entering your kayak after a wet exit:
Make sure your kayak is sitting right side up. If necessary, you can reach under the kayak, grab the lip of the cockpit and roll it over. You can also reach across the kayak and do the same.
After you are right side up, grab the far side of your cockpit with your left or right hand. Pull yourself up and across, attempting to balance the kayak in a neutral position as you do so.
If the kayak starts to topple, lean back, and regain your balance. if necessary, kick your legs in the water to help you maintain your centre of balance over the middle of the cockpit.
After pulling yourself up lay across the cockpit with your arms and legs over each side of your kayak. Slowly turn over, so that your butt will be inside your cockpit. Once you feel balanced, grab the side of the cockpit with your hands and rotate, swinging your legs up and onto the top of the bow.
Now place your hands behind the cockpit and lift your butt out and place it on top of your kayak, behind your cockpit. From here, pull one foot back into the cockpit and then the other. Scoot your butt forwards into the cockpit, sliding your feet down into the belly of the boat as you do so.
Most important is not to panic
Each person should develop a technique they are comfortable with. Make sure that you practice and develop your technique before you find yourself kayaking in challenging conditions. You’ll thank yourself for not putting yourself in a situation you don’t know how to get yourself out of. The last thing you want to do when you make a wet exit is to panic. Somehow a kayak has a way of fighting you off, and when you panic, this can become an almost impossible obstacle to overcome.
And forget about any equipment you may have lost. Your first concern should always be getting back onboard. The equipment can be tracked down after you are back in your kayak. If it can’t, you can always replace it. Be safe!