Solo & Assisted Kayak Emptying

Solo & Assisted Kayak Emptying

If you are planning to paddle on whitewater or on rough water, it makes perfect sense that you have basic understanding of how to empty water out of the kayak. Unless you don’t mind asking yourself what to do if kayak filled with water at that very moment, you need to learn the tricks to empty a kayak. Kayaking an exciting and amazing outdoor activity but it has its share of downsides. Your kayak can hit an underwater object or it can tip over if you fail to maneuver it properly and this is the reason why we need to learn how to empty water out of the kayak otherwise you could find yourself in deep trouble.

1. Solo Kayak Emptying

We should not ignore the fact that a kayak full of water is extremely heavy and therefore, it will not be an easy task to empty the water out. It is going to get even messier if you are trying to keep the kayak steady at the same time.

First thing first – don’t freak out if you suddenly notice that the kayak is getting filled with water. You need to stay calm and try to assess your current position before jumping the gun. You need to first figure out these two things –

  • Try to find dry land or at least try to figure out the distance between the dry land and your kayak.
  • Try to determine the amount of water that has seeped into the kayak.

There is no point in draining the water out if the water is seeping in too fast. You will end up burning all your energy and the worst part is that it would not make any difference at all.  In case the water is not too cold, you should try to swim your way to the shore rather than spending hours on draining water from the Kayak. Once you reach the dry land, pull the kayak and then drain the water out by tilting the kayak sideway. Now, to be honest, this is a time consuming process and that means, you will have to repeat this several times to be able to drain the water out completely from your kayak.

We should not ignore the obvious fact that emptying a capsized kayak is easier said than done. Assistance from another paddler would definitely be a godsend but it is not impossible to empty a kayak alone. All you need is a little bit of strength and a strong believe in your abilities and maybe a little bit of luck from the goddess of water.

Once the boat gets capsized, it makes sense that you should try your level best to empty out the water completely from the kayak because if you even try to get back in, you will have a hard time keeping the kayak in balance. You should enter the kayak only when you are 100% certain that you can drain out the remaining water by using a pump or a cup.

Step 1

You need to keep a track of the paddle while trying to emptying kayak on the water otherwise you will end up losing it at the end. Now, losing you paddle in the middle of nowhere is the worst thing that can happen to a paddler and therefore, you need to fasten it with a strong paddle tether. There are hundreds of paddle tethers available online. Just read the reviews and then make the right choice.

Step 2

Try lifting the bow of the kayak slowly when the kayak is upside down. This will help you drain out the water that has got trapped inside the cockpit.

Step 3

In the next stage, you need to inflate the paddle float and get it attached to the paddle. Now, lift the kayak a little and position the bow of the kayak on your shoulder. Since you need to grab onto something to lift the bow of the kayak, you need to place the paddle float against the other shoulder.

Step 4

Lift the bow in the air to drain out the water while holding onto the paddle with another arm of yours. This has to be done simultaneously.

Step 5

As soon as the water gets emptied out of the kayak, flip the kayak upright. However, if you fail to drain out all the water, you might have to repeat the same process several times.

2. Assisted kayak emptying

Solo emptying is definitely tiring and takes a lot of hard work. But if you are kayaking with your buddy, the process of emptying out water is far less complicated.  However, assisted kayak emptying technique can only be applied on those kayaks that have floats attached on both the ends of the kayaks.

Assisted Kayak emptying is easy but you need to stay calm while doing so. Because sometimes, people start pancaking and eventually end up capsizing the person who is trying to get the capsized boat upright. Also, keep the paddles close because you can’t afford to lose your paddle when your kayak runs the risk of being capsized.

Step 1

Your friend needs to get hold of the kayak’s bow first. Allow him to lift the end of the bow gently on the deck. If your friend is struggling to lift the bow, you need to assist him by pushing the bow up or by pushing the stern of the kayak down.

Step 2

Make sure that the kayak is upended while doing so otherwise it will be very hard for your friend to raise the kayak on the deck. Moreover, when the kayak is lifted upended all the water will automatically start draining off. Ask your friend to lift the bow even higher once the kayak gets a little lightweight. This will speed up the emptying of the kayak.

Step 3

Once all the water gets flown away, your friend needs to flip the kayak in upright position. In the next stage, all you have to do is to climb back by using the heel hook technique.

However, in case, if it is impossible to empty the kayak by using the aforementioned techniques, you need to drain out the water in the old fashioned way. You need to climb back and then start using the pump to empty out the water.

Posted by
Arthur G. Moore

Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.

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