Kayaking for Beginners – Launching Your Kayak

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.

Sit-on Kayak

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.

Sit-in Kayak

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, here 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!

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16 thoughts on “Kayaking for Beginners – Launching Your Kayak”

  1. I never knew there were so many ways to launch a kayak – something I never really thought of. I don’t have experience in kayaking, so I’d go with the launch from the beach, since it sounds by far the easiest, but then again, from this reading I didn’t really appear that launching from the dock was too bad, either. But it’s probably a little more complicated in real time than it sounds in an article. I’d definitely have to manually try each method before deciding which way is right for me. 

    • Todd,

      As someone who is older and not nearly as limber or strong as I used to be, I much prefer the beach launch. I have not tried launching from a dock, I just picture myself getting very wet. LOL 

      The folks in the videos definitely make it look easy.

      You will have to let me know if you try it. I would love to know how it goes.

  2. finding a good article does not come by easily so i must commend your effort in creating such a beautiful website and bringing up an article to help others with good information like this. watching the video gave me old memories of fishing with my father. i would love to try this out

    • Benny,

      I highly recommend trying it out. Fishing in the kayak is so much fun and even if you catch nothing, it is so relaxing to just be out there with nature. It is food for the soul.

      Please, come back and let me know if you tried it and what kind of adventure you had.

  3. Many thanks to you for sharing with us an informative and wonderful Wonderful Article. The main content of this article is how to get started kayak who are brand new.The information you have mentioned in your article to launch kayak is really awesome. Kayaking is a versatile watersport is a great way to spend quality time with friends and family while exploring nature from a new point of view.One of the topics mentioned in your article is Launching From the Shoreline.

    I went kayaking last year. I enjoyed my friend’s beautiful landscapes with water.Those who want to make themselves a little bit more realistic will surely make kayaking.

    I have read and enjoyed your article and because it is a travel and educational article I would like to share it in my Facebook group if you allow me.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Your words are kind and I appreciate you.

      Please, share at will. I am so glad that you found this helpful and shareable. Come back often to check out more helpful articles and fun adventures.

  4. First of all thank you so much for sharing such an excellent article with us. Your article is really informative and I gained a lot of knowledge by reading your article which is very helpful to me .I love doing kayaking and enjoy it .Of course I have to follow some tips for launching my Kayak .I think I should always do a pre-launch check as a driver .I am not sure at all times that PFD is safe and properly installed .Also I am aware of the area around me .With that I keep some dry food with me .

    I think your article is very important for beginners. So I will definitely be delivering your article to my friend and he will be very benefited and share his new experiences with you.Can I share your article on my social media?

    • Shanta,

      I am so happy you found this helpful. PLease, share away. Staying safe is very important and part of that is the pre-check before launching. Always make sure you always have your PFD on properly. 

      Happy adventures and come back to see what I do next.

  5. Hello there,thanks for sharing this awesome article I know it would be of great help to the public as it has been of help to me.I have heard slot about kayaking as a sport and I really loved what I heard and hope to try it out .

    I only went on one kayaking trip and it was kind of fun and really stressful though as I fell out a few number of time as I wasn’t able to grab all the information but iust say kayaking is great.

    Thanks once again for the tips I would definitely add them to what I have learnt so far.


    • Thank you David,

      I hope you get to try kayaking again. Come back and share your adventure with me here if you do. I would love to hear about it.

  6. As a keen traveller, Kayaking is one of the activities always on offer in Mediterranean countries in Europe but unfortunately I haven’t been brave enough to try it.
    Your kayaking series for beginners is definitely what I need to boost my confidence. I have gone back to read the first and second one.
    I’ll let you know how I got on.

    • Bolupe I am so happy you found it useful. I cannot wait to hear about your kayaking adventure. Please make sure you share with us. I have found it to be such a great experience. I am more of a lazy river kayaker, but it is so peaceful and good for the soul.

  7. Thank you for sharing your article about the technics of getting in and out of a Kayak. It is a really good review to refer to when needed and I am sure pretty much everybody don’t know about that. Except for those who live close to a lack corner and their hobby is Sailing and Kayaking. I am sure everyone will have a vacation opportunity to spend in a beach corner. So your review will come handy to all those.

    All the best!  

    • Thank you meenaf1 for stopping in. I am glad you found my article helpful and I hope you will return and spend some more time with me learning about the basics of kayaking.

  8. Hi Annette, 

    Thank you for sharing this article; it came just in time.

    We are going on a camping trip soon with all the family, and of course, we plan to do some kayaking. We are new to kayaking, with no experience at all, so this article will help us very much. I didn’t. There were so many ways to launch a kayak; I already see myself getting into trouble here:). I’ll do my best, though. I do have a question. What types of kayaks are the easiest to launch? I’ve read that some have a large opening to make it easier to enter the kayak. 

    I am curious about this.

    Thank you for this excellent post

    • Daniella, I am so glad I could be of some help in this area. There are some kayaks out there that have larger cockpits that make it easier to get in and out of. I personally have a sit-on style of kayak, which makes it super easy to get on and off.

      I think you will do just fine and I hope you have a marvelous time on your camping trip. You may also like my article on kayaking basics for beginners.

      Thank you for stopping in, hope to hear from you again.


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