How to Get Back Up On and Sit-on-Top Kayak After Falling Out

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Cruising through the crisp water in a kayak is a perfect way to spend a gorgeous spring or summer day. But when your kayak flips, that peaceful paddle can turn into a stressful situation if you’re not prepared. If you’re using a sit-on-top kayak, you’ll have an easier time getting your bottom back into the boat. Still, you’ll want to understand the process before pushing into the water — otherwise you might end up doggy-paddling your way back to shore with your kayak in tow.

Flip your kayak over if necessary. To do this, reach across the bottom of the boat — which is now floating above the water — and grasp onto the kayak’s edge or the scupper holes.

Lift your knees up until they’re touching the top of the boat — which is currently under the water. Lean backward and pull the kayak toward you, flipping it over.

Tuck your paddle into the deck lines to prevent it from floating away from you. If necessary, you can hold the paddle with one hand and simply perform the following steps with the other hand — but it will be a bit more difficult to get yourself into the kayak.

Move along the side of the kayak until your body is near the depression where you’ll sit. Of course, you’ll want to be facing the kayak.

Float on your belly while holding onto the side of the kayak. Allow your feet to float near the surface of the water.

Reach across the depression and grasp onto the far edge of the kayak.

Pull your body across the kayak. Kick your feet gently to help propel yourself forward. Stop once your belly is resting against the depression.

Flip onto your backside and adjust your position until your bottom is securely in the kayak’s sitting depression. Sit up and swing your feet forward onto the kayak.


Always wear a lifejacket when kayaking. Even if you’re a proficient swimmer, a lifejacket allows you to focus on re-entering your kayak — rather than spending all your energy trying to keep your head above water. According to the American Canoe Association, about 70 percent of all drowning accidents from canoes, kayaks and rafts likely could have been avoided if the person was wearing a lifejacket.

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