How to Adjust and Launch Your Kayak

How to Adjust and Launch Your Kayak


A well-adjusted kayak will be more stable and comfortable to paddle. Do your adjusting while the boat is sitting on dry land, and focus on three points of contact:

  • Snug your butt firmly against the seatback.If your boat lets you fine-tune the angle of the seat or seatback, do whatever feels most comfortable. For balance and power, though, you want to sit more upright.
  • Place the balls of your feet on the footpegs; then check to see if you have a slight bend in your knees.Most footpegs adjust by tilting them and sliding them along a track to preset stopping points. It’s often easier to get out of the boat to slide the pegs.
  • Make sure your bent knees are in firm contact with each side of the cockpit.This helps you control the side-to-side motion of the boat as you paddle. Your fit should be snug but not so jammed-in that you can’t get out if you capsize.

How to Launch Your Kayak

Most trips start off with a launch from a gradually sloping shoreline. Take care to avoid dragging the hull, especially on rocky, sandy or cement surfaces:

  • Get a friend to help you carry the boat to your put-in point. Set it down in shallow water, perpendicular to the shoreline. The bow should face away from the shore and the stern should be close to the shore (but fully afloat).
  • Put one of your paddle blades under the deck line in front of the cockpit (The shaft can stick out sideways like an outrigger.)
  • Stand over the kayak, straddling the cockpit.
  • Grab the cockpit and set your butt down on the cockpit seat, then lift your legs and slide your feet into the cockpit.
  • Scoot your butt firmly back into the seat and settle both feet comfortably onto the foot pegs.
  • Grab your paddle and use it to move your kayak past incoming waves and boat wakes. Then attach your spray skirt if you have one.

When it comes time to get out of your boat later, simply paddle into your launch position, set up your outrigger and reverse steps until your straddling your kayak again.

 Riverside Recreation is located in Forest County along the Allegheny River in West Hickory, PA.  We have an 8-mile canoe or kayak float on the Allegheny River from Tidioute to West Hickory which will take from 2 to 4 hours to complete.  A 10 mile and overnight floats are also available.  You will be shuttled up river to Tidioute or other designated boat launches and you will float to West Hickory.  This stretch of river is calm with a few ripples, a few deep sections and no white water.  It’s a very relaxing and enjoyable trip. Contact us today at 814-463-9235 or visit

Author: Riverside Recreation

Riverside Recreation opened in the summer of 2011 by Pam and Tim Sneeringer. We are located in Forest County along the Allegheny River in West Hickory, PA. Rustic River Front cabins are available to rent. One day rental is $55 or $100 for two days.

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