January 22, 2010, Newsletter Issue #15: How to Exit a Flipped Kayak - The Wet-Exit

Tip of the Week

Flipping over in a kayak can be a dangerous thing if you are not sure what to do when it happens, particularly if you are whitewater kayaking.  That is why every kayaker should practice flipping their kayak over and performing what is known as a wet exit.

Steps to Wet-Exit a Kayak

1) Ensure the Kayak is Upside-Down.  This sounds like common sense, but there are times when a kayak can merely be on its side while the paddler is under water, making exiting it very difficult.  Shaking your hips in the kayak will usually do the trick.

2) Tuck Forward in the Kayak.  The tendancy might be to lean back to get out of the kayak, this will only serve to trap your legs in the kayak.  You must therefore tuck forward so that your face and head come toward the deck of the kayak.   This will also serve to protect your face and head from hitting anything underwater.

3) Pull the Grab Loop on Your Spray Skirt.  This step only applies if you are wearing a spray skirt, of course.  The loop will be dangling at the front of the kayak cockpit as long as you secured it properly.  Pull on it and it should release your body from the kayak.

4) Push the Kayak up and Away from Your Body.  Push the kayak off like a pair of pants, by placing your hands on the kayak at your waist. 

5) Swim to the Surface and Get Your Gear.  Find your paddle and hold it with one hand.  Grab one of the grab loops with the other hand and try to stay with your kayak if you are in safe conditions.

6) Get to Shore.  It is tricky to get back in your kayak once it has been flipped over and you are still in the water.  Swim to shore while holding onto your kayak.  This is best done by holding the kayak and kicking with the legs.  If people are around, signal to them for help.


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