How to Sea Kayak

Three Methods:Learn to Enter and Exit a Sea KayakPaddle ProperlyPrepare for Time on the Water

Kayaking has grown in popularity over the recent years and it's no surprise. Not only is it good clean fun, but it is also an excellent cardiovascular and muscle workout and it allows you to see the world from a whole new perspective. Before you take to the water, though, it is important to learn how to enter and exit a kayak, how to paddle a sea kayak, and how to prepare for an afternoon (or longer) paddle.

Method 1
Learn to Enter and Exit a Sea Kayak

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    Keep the kayak on dry ground so you can learn how to properly enter it. Although experts can enter while in the water, doing so as a novice will most likely cause the kayak to capsize.
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    Ask other paddlers to hold the kayak steady against the dock as you step into the cockpit. Keep your weight on the dock and place both legs in the center of the cockpit. Swing your body into the kayak while keeping a firm hold of the dock. Slide your legs forward in the cockpit as you let go of the dock and stabilize the kayak. To exit a kayak, perform the previous steps in reverse.

Method 2
Paddle Properly

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    Sit with a straight back and knees slightly bent. Most sea kayaks have “wells” or little pedals that the paddler can adjust to rest his feet on in order to maintain proper form. Adjust these foot wells, as well as the back rest, before putting the sea kayak in the water for optimal form and comfort.
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    Grasp the paddle firmly, with your hands shoulder-width apart. Dip one side of the paddle into the water, edge side down. Pull the paddle towards the stern of the kayak and up out of the water. As one side of the paddle comes out of the water, the other side should repeat the previous steps. Continue the paddling process as one fluid motion and do not move your hands along the paddle.
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    Choose your paddle according to your needs. Most paddles are offset to reduce wind resistance. With paddles that are not offset your trip range is reduced but you will not have to constantly twist the paddles.

Method 3
Prepare for Time on the Water

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    Choose where you plan to kayak according to the type of kayak you have, your risk/reward level, and your waterman abilities. For example, a sleek kayak designed for speed has no flotation foam and will sink if punctured by rocks or by a shark. The hard plastic scupper type kayaks, on the other hand, are very durable and can survive such impacts with greater dependability.
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    Develop a float plan. Although a float plan will not prevent an accident, it will allow a friend or relative to know your route, destination, and estimated time of return just in case.
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    Carry a life jacket, signaling device, and a battery-powered running light that can go on the sea kayak’s bow. Not only can these devices save your life but they will also make it easier for search parties to spot you in case you get lost.
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    Pack enough water for the trip, usually 1 gallon (3.8 L) per person, but it's better to pack more than you think you need in case the trip is delayed. Also, pack high-protein snacks, such as trail mix or protein bars to fuel the high caloric demand.
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    Keep a bilge pump or large sponge within reach. If a wave pushes water into the sea kayak’s cockpit, it’s nice to have a quick way to dry the cockpit. A paddling skirt is recommended as well, especially on rougher seas or in colder weather, to close off the cockpit from the elements and to keep your legs and lower body dry.
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    Consider carrying an anchor. You can fashion one from a bucket and a cord made of fabric, plastic, or rope, or you can simply buy one. The current or wind could sweep you 50 yards (45.7 m) away if you stop paddling for more than 5 minutes.
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    Follow the weather report before going kayaking and know the depth of the water you will be in. The surface area of a kayak is huge, similar to a small sail.


  • Place any gear that shouldn’t get wet in a dry bag, which can be purchased at any outdoors store or in the outdoor section of any discount store.
  • Take a boating safety class. The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary offers such classes and they cost relatively little.


  • As you go away from shore, the windbreaks from shore such as buildings, trees and hills are greatly reduced. Kayakers do get swept out to sea, be mindful of the wind, the currents, the amount of daylight time and your paddling ability.
  • Outrigger canoeing is a problem because sharks mistakenly bite the outrigger thinking it is a fish.
  • A sleek kayak, especially smoother models, resemble a marlin or swordfish, which might attract big sharks.
  • Swimming in the open ocean is slow, unlike the fast swimming in a protected beach or swimming pool. If you have to swim in cold water hypothermia is a major factor to consider.
  • Even if you have an anchor, do not rely on it exclusively. It takes practice to use an anchor effectively.

Article Info

Categories: Canoes, Kayaks, and Rowboats