Kayaking Tips: Tuck and Wet Exit
How to Do the Tuck and Wet Exit Method in Kayaking
Get settled back in the kayak, have your sprayskirt sealed, and get a friend to help you through the next few steps. At this stage, just throw your paddle up on shore and stay in water just deep enough to float you. The first thing to do any time you tip over in your kayak is tuck your body into a protected position. Bend frontwards at the waist like you were going to kiss the deck in front of you. Imagine you're in your kayak, floating upside-down over a rocky riverbed.
If you were to sit up straight in a kayak having your torso at a 90 degree angle to your legs, you would be pretty exposed to those rocks. To cut down your exposure, learn to get into the tuck position immediately. Then if you do float over a rock before you can wet exit or roll up, your life vest or helmet could absorb the impact.
While you are still right-side-up, practice getting out of the kayak. These are the movements you will use in the wet exit. Grip the sprayskirt grab loop and pull it straight out away from the cockpit to break the seal, then pull up to lift the skirt away from the rim.
Set the heels of your hands on the sides of the boat next to your hips, like the boat were the arms of a chair and you were going to lift yourself out of it. Loosen up your legs to release them from the footpegs and thigh braces. Holding your legs straight, bend forward at the waist and raise your bottom out of the seat and onto the deck right behind the cockpit. Imagine you're flying off the high dive in the pike position. When we work on this motion inverted in the wet exit lesson, gravity will help you get the idea.
The Wet Exit
You will need the help of a friend take you into water 3 to 4 feet deep. As you practice the wet exit, your friend's task is to stay alert and help if you encounter any problems. Your friend can either spin the boat right-side up with you in it, or support your body using his hands so you can get your face to the surface for a breath of air.
It's time to get wet! Take a deep breath, tuck, and tip over. Remain in that tuck, and reach up with your hands. Wave to your friend, slap the bottom of the boat with your hands, and count to 10 slowly. The 10-count affords you time to open your eyes, acquire your bearings, and get used to hanging out upside down while remaining tucked.
Then pop the seal on your sprayskirt like you practiced earlier. Place your hands on the sides of the boat next to your hips, and loosen up your legs to release them from the footpegs and thigh braces. Imagine it like "taking off the boat" like you would take off a skirt or pair of trousers. Hold your legs straight and roll forward in the pike position as gravity helps pull you out of the seat. Never try to swim to the surface till your feet have cleared the cockpit. Trying to "climb" out using your legs would only make you feel tangled up. Relax, keep your legs straight and allow gravity do its job; when your feet are clear, then that is the time you can swim to the surface and swim your boat to shore.
Practice the wet exit with a friend until you feel confident with the whole process before moving to the next skill.