How to Launch and Land a Kayak

A kayak is a sleek and graceful vessel, but it can be difficult to get in and out of your kayak gracefully. When launching a kayak, you will likely encounter one of two scenarios:

  • Shoreline launches are a great way to get into your boat without getting wet!
  • Launching your boat from the dock can be tricky if you’re not careful. You have to make sure you keep your balance as you carefully slide your feet and butt into the boat so you don’t tip it over.

Before you launch your boat, make sure to do a prelaunch check. Find a safe place to dock and check that you have all your safety equipment, that your PFD is snug, that your other necessities are stowed where you like them, that your foot pegs are altered perfectly and that your rudder or skeg is up. You can also follow My Kayak Guide and learn each and everything about kayaking in complete depth. 

Shoreline Put-In Points

Launching from Shore

  1. Perform a parallel launch by first carrying your boat to your put-in point and setting it down in shallow water. (If you’re undertaking into a river or have a significantly extended kayak, then a similar launch might perform better.)
  2. Put one of your paddle blades beneath the deck line in front of the cockpit.
  3. To get into your kayak, stand over it and straddle the cockpit.
  4. Grab the edge of the cockpit and pull yourself up so you’re sitting on the seat, then bring your legs up and slide your feet into the space in front of the controls.
  5. Make sure you’re sitting back firmly in your seat and that both feet are resting comfortably on the foot pegs.
  6. Hold your paddle and use it to move your kayak towards the incoming waves. attaches your spray skirt if you have one, this will keep you dry from the water that might come into the kayak.

Landing and Exiting on Shore

  1. As you paddle your way towards shore, keep an eye on the water’sdepth. You want to stop before your bow gets beached on shallow ground. Look for water that is shallow enough for you to stand in without too much effort.
  2. Place one of your paddle blades beneath the deck line directly in front of the cockpit.
  3. If you have a spray skirt, remove it. Next, grab each side of the cockpit next to your hips.
  4. Bring your knees up close to your chest and tuck your feet in towards your bottom.
  5. Carefully lift one foot out of the boat and place it down in the shallow water next to the cockpit. Make sure you keep your balance as you do this!
  6. To get out of the boat, first put your weight on one foot and then slowly stand up. Take your other foot out of the boat and step onto the ground.

Dock Put-in Points

Depending on the height of the dock in relation to the water, you will need to adjust your hand and body placement for the best balance while entering and exiting your kayak. The best way to figure out what works best for you is to practice different techniques until you find a method that suits you.

Launching from a Dock

  1. To start, carry your kayak to the dock and place it in the water. Make sure it’s parallel to the dock so you can get in and out easily.
  2. Set the paddle down on the dock next to you, close enough to the cockpit that you can easily reach it.
  3. While seating on the dock, hold the kayak close by dangling a leg down into the cockpit.

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