The Basics Of How To Do A Seal Launch!

With some bodies of water, you might find that there are no good spots to launch your kayak, and paddling into waves can be exhausting before you even start! Sometimes you must do a ‘seal launch‘, which is sitting in your kayak and sliding off of a rock, cliff, or embankment into the water.

If it’s from a higher height, you can have a friend push you in, or you can just edge yourself off and take a nosedive to the water:


seal launching into rapids

If you don’t know the area very well, or it’s not known as a seal launching spot, you have to make sure the landing area is clear of anything that might hurt you. The biggest dangers would be rocks that are just under the water or the water not being deep enough. It’s best to be safe and find a popular launching spot or ask who knows of one.

There are a few ways to gain entry into the water if all you see are cliffs or rocks. The first is the hardest one, which is to climb down to get as close to the water as you can and jump on top of your kayak as you throw it into the water. If it’s on the ocean and there are a lot of waves, you could be without a kayak mighty quick or take much longer to get in. That should only be an option if the rocks are too jagged or high.

The next choice is to slide off of a huge rock formation, one that is preferably smooth so as not to scratch the bottom of your kayak. If there’s an area of algae covering the rocks, that’s even better. Sit in the kayak and try to push yourself off of the rock, slightly leaning toward the back of the kayak.

When you perform your seal launch, don’t lean forward too much, as this may result in the kayak flipping upside down and you will land on your head in the water. In that case, you will have to do a rollover and put yourself upright. Also be careful where you put your paddle as you’re falling to avoid any unnecessary injury. Over your head is the safest place to hold it.

seal launch

The final way to enter the water (this is for the ocean) is to take your kayak close to the water, lay it down on a rock and get in. The wave that washes over the rock will lift you up and you can paddle off the rock. If it doesn’t fully sweep you off the rock, just steady yourself and wait for the next wave.

You may want to have your spray skirt on in either situation, especially where there’s waves. The same tactic can be done to get back onto the rock after you’re done kayaking.


kayak launch on rock

Some people will just throw in their kayaks and jump into the water right beside them, if they can enter the cockpit from the water. This would more easily work on a lake or river, rather than the ocean, which is constantly moving and possibly turbulent.

Looking for your first kayak?  Take a look at other types of kayaks .

Perform a seal launch however and wherever is easiest and safest for you so you can avoid injuries that will prevent you from doing more kayaking!

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