How to Do a Wet Exit from a Kayak

A snugly fitting spray skirt helps to keep the interior of your boat dry. But in the event that your boat flips, you need to be able to escape via a wet exit. Wet exits are practiced in case of an emergency and it is important to know how to execute one if needed.

Here’s a quick rundown of the steps involved in a sit in fishing kayak wet exit:

  1. Brace yourself to avoid a capsize.
  2. If you capsize, lean forward.
  3. Slide your hand along the cockpit coaming to the grab loop and pull!
  4. Place your hands on the cockpit sides and push your knees together.
  5. Move forward and let your PFD do the rest.

Success in paddling is easy to measure: when your PFD brings you to the surface, no one deducts points for technique errors. And, no matter how cautious you are, you never know when conditions will require this skill.

Wet exits are essential for anyone spending time on the water, and it’s important to learn from an experienced guide or instructor. Practice in a calm, safe environment with a partner or lifeguard present until it’s second nature.

Before You Capsize

  • As you prepare to head out on the water, be sure to check that your spray skirt’s grab loop is on the outside of the cockpit coaming and in front of you. This will help you stay safe and dry while you’re enjoying your time on the water.
  • If you feel your boat about to capsize, try to perform a brace to prevent it from happening. A quick, well-executed brace can right you, so you won’t have to abandon your boat. If you don’t know how, read How to Brace or, better yet, sign up for a class.

When You Capsize

If you do capsize, try to maintain your cool. Then take the following simple steps:

  1. Try to keep your paddle in place. (Don’t worry about losing it; simply retrieve it as soon as you get out of the water.)
  2. Before you go underwater, take a deep breath.
  3. Lean forward as far as possible (the “kissing the deck” position). This positions you for an easy exit.

When You’re Underwater

This is when having a Zen-like demeanour pays off. (Hint: Whack the bottom of your boat to alert rescuers.) Here are the necessary steps:

Remove Your Spray Skirt

  1. Grab the coaming on the sides of the cockpit. (Use your free hand if you managed to keep hold of your paddle.)
  2. Slide your hand(s) forward until you find the grab loop on the spray skirt.
  3. Take hold of the loop and pull. (Don’t worry: even a super-tight skirt will pop off with a good yank.) If it gets stuck, pull the loop forward and then up.)

Remove Yourself

  1. Place your hands on the cockpit coaming on either side of your hips. (Think of it as slipping off a large pair of pants.)
  2. Bring your knees together to release the thigh braces.
  3. Push yourself forward by pushing off the coaming.
  4. The rest will be taken care of by your PFD, which will float you to the surface.

When You’re Back Above Water

If your paddle has come loose, retrieve it now. Also, grab your boat. It’s time to right the ship and get back in—but first, you should learn some rescue techniques. The best way to learn is, of course, with proper instruction.