PADDLERsmart! Canada Knowledge Base

Module 04 - Safe Boat Operation



Prepare to enter a kayak by doing the following:

Step 1: Make sure the kayak is the right size for you—will you fit comfortably in the cockpit?

Step 2: Load, secure and evenly distribute all of your cargo before you board the kayak.

Step 3: Check that the water is deep enough for the kayak to float freely once it's loaded.

Step 4: Bring the kayak parallel to shore.

Step 5: If on moving water, hold the upstream end of the kayak tightly to the shore to keep it from being pulled into the current.

Step 6: If in shallow water, walk the kayak into ankle deep water before you attempt to enter.

How to Enter Your Kayak

Once you’ve completed the safety preparations to enter your kayak, you can enter by following these steps: 

Step 1: Place the paddle across the kayak and behind the seat, with more paddle length on the side of the kayak that’s facing the shore.

Step 2: Face forward and grasp the paddle with both of your hands behind you.

Step 3: Lean the kayak toward shore until the blade of the paddle braces itself on the ground and creates a stable bridge between the kayak and shore

Step 4: Slowly transfer your weight to the paddle and slide yourself into the kayak, one foot at a time.

Step 5: Use the paddle to steady yourself and always maintain three points of contact while entering.

Step 6: Whenever possible, climb directly into your paddling position.

If your kayak has a small cockpit, it will be more difficult to board and exit because you will need to bring your feet and legs into the kayak more quickly. Additionally, some smaller kayaks will require you to sit on the deck behind the seat and enter the kayak with your legs first.

Exiting Your Kayak

When exiting your kayak after a paddle trip, simply repeat the process in reverse but remember, don’t try to stand up in the kayak at anytime while exiting the craft or you’ll be going for a swim!

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