Welcome back to number 3 in our Kayaking for beginners series!
Today we are going to launch our kayak! It’s getting real now.
Pre-Launch and Pre-Landing Check
Just like a truck driver, we should always do a pre-launch check. Once you get your kayak to the launching area, make sure you have all your gear and it is where you want it. Make sure your foot rests are where you need them.
Make sure your PFD is secure and properly fitted!
Be aware of your surroundings. Especially if you are in a remote wildlife area. Don’t land your kayak in an area where there could be heavy traffic from predators. No one wants to become dinner for a bear. Also, watch out for nesting areas for waterfowl and such.
Don’t forget the snacks and water.
Launching From the Shoreline
This in my opinion will be the easiest way to launch your kayak, as long as you do not mind getting wet. I personally would rather get my feet wet rather than taking a swim due to lack of balance.
Depending on the type of kayak you have, will determine the way you get into or on your boat.
For those of you that have a fishing style sit-on top kayak, like myself. Getting on the boat from the shoreline is relatively easy. While the first time I did it, it wasn’t graceful, I got better each time I did it.
Look for a calm, shallow area near the shore. Either place your kayak in the water parallel to the bank or vertical, it really doesn’t matter. You just want to make sure you have everything you need and didn’t leave anything on shore.
Walk into the water with your kayak. We are going to enter our boat bum first. So, place yourself with your bum at the seat area of the kayak and holding onto the sides, sit our self down on the seat, gradually. Once your bum hits the seat firmly, rotate yourself around, bringing your feet into the kayak.
Make sure your fishing poles and or other gear is out-of-the-way so you don’t get hung up and throw yourself off balance.
For those of you that have a sit-in style kayak, this could potentially be a little less graceful. Especially if you are anything like me, LOL.
Look for calm shallow water. If you have a narrower kayak or you have longer legs. Straddle the kayak and lower your bum into the seat, then bring your legs into the cockpit.
Now, if you are like me and not a yoga master, and you have a smaller cockpit, you may need to place at least one foot into the kayak first. If, you do this, try not to put any weight onto that leg, it will require a bit of balance. Then slide yourself into the seat, bringing your other leg after.
If your kayak has straps on the front, place one of your paddle blades in those straps. The other end can hang out and act as an outrigger.
If you are going to launch at a boat ramp, please be mindful and courteous of the boaters that are also going to be using that ramp.
Launching From A Dock
Now, I personally have not done this. So, upon my research, her are some tips or steps you will want to consider.
Depending on whether the dock sits high or low in the water is going to determine how or where you place your hands and knees for the best leverage for getting in and out of the kayak. Adjust as needed.
After placing your kayak in the water parallel to the dock, place your paddle on the dock about an arms’ length away for easy access.
Sit on the dock with your feet dangling into the kayak to keep it close. Depending on the height of the dock, this is where you may need to make adjustments.
With one hand still on the dock, lower your bum into the cockpit to the seat. Rotating your body a bit to keep your connection to the dock, slide your feet into the cockpit to the foot pegs. Once you are seated, grab your paddle and off you go.
Now, the steps are basically going to be the same with a sit-on top style, except you will be sliding onto the boat rather than in.
Mastering the Landing
Now landing your kayak and exiting the boat is going to be the exact same steps as above, just run them in reverse.
If landing on the shoreline, be mindful when exiting the boat of the possibility of boat waves and such that could shove the kayak towards the shore. If you are in the way, it could cause an injury.
Also take into account, if you are a newbie paddler like myself. Your arm strength, leg strength and overall flexibility is not going to be the same at the end of the float as it was in the beginning. No joke! Don’t get in a hurry, stabilize yourself and you will be fine.
Besides, it’s just water and you will still have your PFD on if all else fails. It gets easier the more you do it.
We Did It!
In this “Kayaking for Beginners” lesson we learned how to launch our kayak!
As I have said in previous posts, I am not an expert and there is a great deal to learn. I recommend taking a lesson or two from a qualified trainer if you don’t feel comfortable on the water. Safety always comes first.
I hope this was helpful though, and I hope that you will return and hang out and learn with me some more. Leave any comments or even suggestions you may have for more lessons below. I look forward to providing you with great content here and I want to help you be the best you can be in your kayak.
Until Next Time!