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Kayaking is a great way to kick back and enjoy a day in nature, especially after a long work week. To do this you need to know how to get yourself and your kayak into the water safely. If you’re struggling to do just that and are stuck on dry land, read on for ten tips on how to launch your kayak.
1. Find the Perfect Spot
Finding a spot that allows you to launch your kayak is crucial. Some parks offer human-made kayak launches, while others might have a sloped bank going down to the river so that you can slide your kayak into the shallows. If you find a dock in the area, consider yourself lucky – they can be of great help. If none of these facilities is present, simply push your kayak into the water and get in.
2. Latch Your Foot braces
You will quickly find out that most kayaks come equipped with footrests (also called foot braces). These foot braces are meant to stabilize you while paddling. Before you launch your kayak, sit inside and adjust each footrest so that your feet are comfortably pressed against them. Doing this will be much more difficult once you are already in the water.
3. Stow Your Paddle
Stowing your paddle inside your yak is particularly important if you’re launching it by yourself. It is advisable to put your paddle inside the cockpit while the kayak is still out of the water.
Stowing your paddle will allow you to grab it easily when you’re on the water. If you leave your paddle on dry land when launching your kayak, you will have to lean over to take it from the dock or bank. Leaning over the side of your yak could lead to you losing balance and tipping over.
4. Keep Your Gear Safe
A water-proof bag is one of the best gear items any kayaker can own. Stash your food, water, phone, keys, and sunscreen inside. A three-litre dry bag should be big enough to hold your essentials.
Many kayaks have a dry storage compartment. If yours doesn’t, attach the bag to the outside of the boat with rope and carabiners. Most kayaks have hooks just for this purpose.
5. Put Your Life Jacket On
You should have your life jacket on before you climb into the kayak. The weather and water conditions are unpredictable, so it is always better to be safe than sorry. A life jacket is indispensable for kayakers of any skill level.
6. Launching With A Partner
If you are lucky enough to have a partner, ask them to help you launch your kayak. Sit into your kayak while still on the dry land. Next, ask them to push you into the water gently. If they do this too fast, your boat may tip, so make sure to tell your partner to be careful.
7. Launching From Land
If there is no dock present, your best bet will be to find a sloped river bank. You should place your kayak with the nose in the water, while the compartment is still touching the ground.
After you make sure your paddle is stowed, enter the kayak and sit down. Next, start pushing the kayak forward using your bodyweight. You can use your paddle to propel yourself down the bank and into the water.
8. Using A Dock Or A Kayak Launch
Docks and kayak launches make the process much easier.
If you happen to have a dock, you will only have to push your kayak in the water alongside the dock. Stabilize the yak by placing your hands on either side of the boat. Now, it’s time to gently step into it and lower yourself onto the seat. Holding onto the dock is a great way to keep your balance while sitting down.
9. Shallow Water Launching
The shallow launching technique is quite simple. Push the boat into the water until the water is at least two feet high. Then, place your hands on each side of the kayak’s cockpit to stabilize it. Step into the boat one foot at a time. Slowly and steadily sit down. Don’t lean over either side of the boat because you might tip the yak.
10. Time to Paddle
Once you’re already in the kayak and on the water, it is time to start paddling! You can now explore to your heart’s content.
We hope that these tips will help you have a relaxing day paddling on the river or lake!