How to Get Back In Your Kayak After It Flips Over In Deep Water

Kayaking is one of the most fun and dangerous sports out there. As fun and entertaining as it can be to maneuver your way through rivers and small waterfalls, it can also be daunting and extremely dangerous. Your kayak can flip over at any given moment, and you could be swept away by strong currents.

So it does not matter if your a beginner or a seasoned kayaker; knowing how to get back into your kayak is a vital skill that you must possess, and in this article, we will do our best to demonstrate the best ways of doing so.

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Two Main Types of Kayaks:

Before knowing how to get back inside kayaks, we must, first of all, become familiar with the two main types of kayaks as the process of getting inside each one of them is different from the other. The two types are:

  • Sit-On-Top Kayaks
  • Sit-Inside Kayaks

We will talk about each type of them separately and then talk about how to get inside each one of them in case you are flipped over. However, the main difference between them is that in a sit-on-top kayak, you, the kayaker, or user sit on top of the kayak without any enclosing around you. While in a sit-inside kayak, you are surrounded and enclosed within the kayak.

1. Sit-On-Top Kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks are mainly made for recreational use, meaning that you will be stable in water. This is due to their flat hull which provides the sit-on-top kayaks with a much needed in-water stability.

You can use your feet to give you more support by putting them into the foot supports on both sides (available in most designs). However, unlike the sit-inside kayaks, your feet will not give you much stability, as we said before, these kayaks are designed to be stable, regardless of you using your legs.

2. Sit-In Kayaks

Sit-in kayaks are all about the hull, where the longer and narrower the hull, the less stable the kayak will be. There are even recreational kayaks with a flat hull, they give you immense stability and thus decreasing your chances of flipping over.

The biggest problem with sit-in kayaks is in case you flip over; your kayak will be filled with water making it even harder for you to get in again. Your only solution will be to bail it manually and then try to get back in.

How to Get Back Inside?

Now that we have talked about the two main types of kayaks, there are two things that we must also talk about before knowing how to get back inside. They are: 

  • Conditions and weather
  • Your safety

1. Conditions and weather

The conditions that surround you play a pivotal and vital role in both your kayak flipping and you getting back inside. This means that the calmer the waters that you are traversing, the less of a chance of your kayak flipping over. However, you always have to take extra precautions and prepare for the worse, as water, no matter if it is a river or sea, is very unpredictable and can change in mere seconds.

This takes us to the weather, which you need to have full detailed knowledge about it. Especially if you are kayaking in the sea, you need to know if there will be waves or not as well as the tide. You also need to know the water terrain, especially in rivers, you need to be familiar with all the ups and downs as well as the current.

2. Safety

You must always remember that your safety is your number one priority. So we will tell you some steps that you must do to be safe. They are: 

  • Always wear a life vest even if the water is calm
  • If the water is calm and your kayak flips, and you cannot get inside, hold onto your kayak as it will always float
  • If the current is too strong and you cannot get back into your kayak, the best thing would be to let it go and try to grab to any stable thing like a rock or a log
  • Always try to have someone with you to help you, a friend or a family member will always be better than kayaking alone
  • No matter what happens you must always remain calm and not panic

Now, after knowing everything that we need to know, we have reached the point that we have been waiting for.

Getting Back Inside a Sit-On-Top Kayak

The main thing that people worry about when a kayak is flipping over is not getting back in but getting out of the kayak first and not being stuck inside it. So to get back into your sit-on-top kayak, there are three main steps that you need to do. They are:

1. Flip it

Since you have flipped over, your kayak is now face down, meaning that the place where you sit is facing the water. So the first thing that you need to do is to flip your kayak. So you have to position yourself at the kayak’s side, near where you sit.

The next step will be to reach across your kayak and grab its edge; you will need to pull with all your might; you can also use your knees by pushing them against the kayak.

2. Getting Inside

A vital step is to make sure that your paddle is secure and will not drift away. After that, you will need to lift your body up using your hands and core. You will need to keep pulling your body until your abdomen is above your seat. You will need to make sure that you are completely stable before making the next step.

3. Flipping

You must be completely stable and balanced with your body leaning over your kayak. You will have to push and spin your body around so that you are seated in your seat. Now you are ready to start kayaking again.

Getting Back Inside a Sit-In Kayak

The steps are mainly the same ones; however, you need to make sure that your kayak doesn’t swallow a lot of water while it is flipped over. As it will bother your legs and might even make your kayak less stable. The steps are:

1. Flip it

Same as the sit-on-top kayak, you will need to grab the sides of your kayak while you are near the center and pull and push strongly until it reaches its correct position. This will need to be done quickly and accurately to prevent any water from getting inside your kayak’s cockpit.

2. Getting On-Top

Same as the sit-on-top kayak, you need to use your arms, legs, and core to lift yourself upwards so that you are leaning on top with your abdomen on top of your cockpit.

3. Getting Inside

You must lift yourself up while maintaining your balance and then proceed to insert your legs first into your cockpit. Reposition yourself and make sure that everything is good and ready. Then head back to shore to empty any water from your cockpit.

Final Thoughts

Finally, it is safe to say that no matter your skills or experience, at one point or the other, your kayak will definitely flip over. Therefore getting back into your kayak is truly a life or death skill that you have to obtain.

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