How to launch your kayak for Beginners

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Ethan Thompson

man in a yellow kayak

Learning how to properly launch a kayak is the first skill that you should practice as a beginner paddler. There is more than one method to do it right. Much, of course, depends on the shoreline and water conditions but as a novice paddler your launch site should be in calm water conditions.

There are also different technique options to learn when you are ready to land and exit the kayak. Once you have the knowledge and practice alternative techniques you can then make the decisions of which methods work best for you.

These chosen options will become an integral part of your personal paddling style as you advance in the great sport of kayaking.

Kayak Launching Techniques

Dry Land Launch

Before you launch your kayak you should check the condition of the beach. First select a sheltered area that is calm. If the beach has a sandy surface that is free of rocks, you may choose to get into your kayak on dry land.

To do this you simply point the front of the kayak toward the water and push until the bow is floating. The cockpit should remain accessible from the beach. The reason for the floating bow is to limit the need to drag the boat along the bottom when in shallow water with a heavier weight load.

Wet Footing Launch

The most common kayak launch is called the ‘wet footing’ technique. This technique requires that you load your kayak from the water. This is generally considered the best technique for the prevention of kayak bottom damage. Most kayaks are build for durability but why take unnecessary chances.

Once your kayak is in the water you should load all necessary supplies and equipment that you will need for the trip. Again, you should never needlessly drag your loaded kayak off of the beach.

The lighter supplies can be loaded while on shore without causing added strain to your boat. This will make for an easier loading process while in the water.

To launch the kayak using the wet footing method efficiently, you should practice getting into the kayak several times in succession. This will build up your confidence, make you feel more at ease, and you will learn how to prevent yourself from falling into the water.

Kayak Landing Techniques

In addition to learning the proper techniques to launch your kayak, you also need to learn and practice the correct techniques to exit your boat. The easiest is the dry landing technique. The dry landing can only be used if the landing site is sandy and free of rocks. Check thoroughly for obstacles before you land to avoid damage to your kayak.

Approach your landing site slowly. You do not want to drive your boat too far ashore while fully loaded. Moving at a slower pace will also give you a second-chance to avoid previously unseen obstacles. Once your kayak is partially on the beach you can safely exit.

Make sure that your kayak has properly landed before standing. Standing when your kayak is not secure can cause you to tip and fall, possibly causing injury. Once out of your boat you should pull the kayak further onto the beach to secure it.

Take beginner lesson to learn first-hand the basic kayak safety and stroke techniques. Practice your kayak launch and exit skills on a beautiful sandy beach on a calm wind morning,

Make the most of it by bringing along a nice picnic lunch and plenty of ice cold refreshments. Don’t feel embarrassed from the awkwardness of learning a new skill. Just have fun and have a great day.

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