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How to Wet Exit a Kayak

Kayak Wet Exit

Dry exits are the best and easiest way to exit a kayak. When you are in the water, however, you might not have a choice. Flipping over is quite common when kayaking. This is why learning how to wet exit a kayak is a fundamental skill for any kayaker.

What Is A Wet Exit?

A wet exit is the act of getting out of your kayak when it tips over in the water. If you are unable to perform a roll, you must wet exit the boat.

This type of exit is one of the very first skills new kayakers should master. It is advisable to rehearse a wet exit under the supervision of an experienced coach. The steps should be second nature to you before you even set foot in a boat.

How Do You Do A Wet Exit?

A wet exit involves several steps.

First, as you are tipping, you must stabilize yourself by placing one hand on each side of the kayak right about where your hips would be. You should do this while still holding your paddle. Be careful not to lose it.

Once the boat is upside down and you’re underwater, the first thing you need to do is release your spray deck in the case you’re wearing one. You simply need to find the spray skirt’s release loop, usually at the front of the compartment. Tug on the grab loop and the skirt will release. If you are unable to find the release loop, run your hands along the cockpit rim.

When you have released the deck, bring your chest to your knees and propel yourself out of the kayak’s cockpit. Your life jacket is going to help you reach the surface at this point. The Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Vest is specially designed for kayakers and comes with shoulders that are tapered in to allow for a full range of motion when paddling.
life jacket

How Do I Save My Stuff?

You can avoid losing your stuff by keeping it secured in your yak’s dry storage bin. If your boat doesn’t have such, you can always tie your dry bag to the outside of your boat.

In the case, you forgot to secure your baggage to the boat, try to salvage what you can.

Keep in mind that you should keep hold of your kayak and paddle at all times. Losing your paddle while you are in the water is a very unpleasant situation.

The Sea to Summit Clear Stopper Dry Bag can keep your belongings safe and dry.
dry bag

How Do I Get Back In My Kayak?

If you are alone, you have two options: swim to the shore while holding your paddle and kayak or perform a self-rescue if you know how to do one.

What should I do with my paddles?

If the water is relatively calm and you have a paddle float (a small flotation device that slides over one of your paddles), you may opt to use your paddle for leverage as you re-embark your kayak.
paddle float

Sometimes the waters will be too rough, or you might not have a paddle float. In these scenarios, you’ll need to flip your kayak over and then either put the paddle inside the cockpit or place it along the top of the yak to be used for balance later.

Getting inside the boat

The first thing you need to do is to flip the kayak over by grabbing one side of the boat and gently turning it over. The kayak should right itself easily.

In the case you have a paddle float:

Next, you need to position your paddle so that you can use it for leverage. If you have a paddle float, lay the paddle over the top of the kayak, so the float is in the water.

Position yourself behind the kayak, then take hold of the back of the boat. Wrapping your feet around the paddle should only be done if you have a paddle float. Do this to climb on top of the yak.

If you don’t have a paddle float:

If a paddle float is not an option, pull yourself on top of the boat with the help of some elbow grease. Swing your legs around and into the cockpit, then gently lower yourself onto the seat.

If you are kayaking with other people, ask your partner to steady the kayak with their paddle. This will make it easier for you to climb up the back of your kayak. Having someone steady the boat for you while you are re-entering it will make the process faster.

Wrap Up

Wet exits and re-entries are skills that any new kayaker must master. Flipping your boat upside-down and then letting yourself out is the first thing you will be taught when you sign up for any kayaking course. It might seem intimidating at first, but, rest assured, once you have done it, it will seem like child’s play.

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