An empty kayak sitting in water is very buoyant, but unstable. Getting into a kayak can be somewhat awkward at first but becomes easier with practice.
Put on and adjust your Personal Flotation Device (and helmet and spray skirt if appropriate) so they are snug but do not restrict movements. The skirt should be around your torso below the PFD, with the bail-out strap in front of you.
Put the kayak in water adjacent and parallel to shore in a place that is no more than knee-deep, if possible.
Lay the paddle on the kayak so one end rests on the stern immediately behind the passenger opening (or behind the seating area if it is a sit-on-top kayak) and the other end is on shore.
Stand in the water between the kayak and shore so you are facing the same direction as the front of the kayak. Place your hands on the passenger opening (or next to the seating area with a sit-on-top kayak) and on the paddle on the far side of the kayak to steady it.
Lift your leg closest to the kayak and put it into the seating area in front of the seat.
Lower yourself backwards into the seat while using your other hand to help steady the kayak by placing it on the closer side of the passenger opening (or seating area).
Lift your other leg into the kayak and grab the paddle.
Slip your skirt over the lip of the passenger opening to seal yourself into the kayak. Make any adjustments necessary to sit comfortably, and use the paddle to push away from shore.
From a Dock or Pool Edge
Put the kayak in the water parallel to dock or pool edge and lay the paddle so one end is behind the seating area and the other is on the dock or pool edge.
Sit down and put both feet into the kayak.
Turn your torso slowly so you are facing the same direction as the kayak and lower yourself into the seat while steadying yourself by holding onto the dock or pool edge.
Secure the spray skirt (if appropriate) and then grab the paddle with one hand and shove away from the dock or pool edge with the other.
Tips & Warnings
- Practice these maneuvers in calm and shallow water to become adept at smoothly moving from a standing to a seated position before attempting to do so in deeper or swift-moving water.
- Kayaks easily tip over, throwing the rider into the water, so wear a helmet to minimize the possibility of dangerous head injuries.