Sit-inside kayaks make a great platform for year-round fishing—nothing beats the cozy confines of a decked kayak on a cold winter day. The only challenge is re-entering the kayak if you happen to fall out, especially in winter. Follow these steps to get back in the boat as quickly as possible with an emergency winter sit-inside re-entry.
Emergency Winter Sit-Inside Re-Entry
1 Make a Paddle Outrigger
I turn the kayak over by reaching across the boat and pulling the far gunnel towards me. Then, I stick one of the paddle blades in the stern rigging so the paddle sticks out perpendicular to the kayak with the back of the other blade over the water like an outrigger.
2 Kick and Hoist
With one hand on the edge of the cockpit, I start kicking while reaching across the cockpit and hoisting my weight over the centerline. This is where heavy, winter clothes, drysuit and PFD may make it difficult to fold back into the boat. If the water is colder than 60ºF, or combined air and water temperatures are below 120ºF, wear a drysuit.
3 Center Your Weight and Roll
Once my belly is over the cockpit, I center my weight while rolling over so my butt falls into the seat. This is easier than you may expect, because the center of gravity is lower in a sit-inside kayak.
Finally, I bring my feet into the cockpit and remove the paddle from the rigging. The final step is to pump any water out of the kayak. If my buddies are laughing at my wet exit, I turn the bilge pump on them.
Using a Paddle Float
An inflatable paddle float adds stability when re-entering a sit-inside kayak:
- Keep the paddle float easily accessible in a familiar spot.
- Inflate the float and slide it on the paddle blade.
- Secure the opposite paddle blade under the decklines behind the cockpit.
- Holding the decklines, float on your stomach alongside the paddle outrigger.
- Kick your legs while pulling your chest across the deck behind the cockpit. You can also push down on the floating extended paddle with your leg to boost yourself onto the kayak.
- Pivot on your stomach to face the back of the boat. Be sure to keep your weight low and lean into the paddle float if you feel tippy.
- Staying on your belly, work your legs into the cockpit.
- When your hips are over the seat, roll over and drop your butt into the seat.
- Keep your weight committed to the paddle float throughout the re-entry and while pumping out to prevent another flip.
Successfully completing the sit-inside kayak re-entry is a matter of survival when fishing in winter. | Feature photo: Micah Simoneaux