Fit your Boat

You get in to fit your boat on dry land. Slide your legs in with your legs straight, then splay your knees wide, so your knees go out to the side of the boat. Usually this will put your heels close together. You will want the footbrace or bulkhead set so that when you press on your toes, that locks your thighs up into the deck thighbrace. When you relax your toes, your thighs should drop a quarter inch below the deck. Your hips should be just snug in the seat, so if you have more than a 1/2 inch or so of space, add some padding.

Getting into the kayak on the water without a flip can be tricky. A sandy beach is an ideal place to put in for the first time. Simply step in like on dry land, and scoot your way toward the water.

A rocky shoreline is trickier. Put the boat parallel to shore and use the paddle for stability while getting in. Set the paddle behind your cockpit with one blade up on shore. Stand in front of the paddle shaft with your back to it and reach directly behind you to grab it. Load most of your weight on the part of the paddle that's on the boat, but keep a little bit of weight on the part of the paddle closer to the shore. Slide both legs at the same time into the boat until your butt rests on the seat.

Putting the Spray Skirt On

Getting the spray skirt, especially a dry new one, onto the cockpit rim can also be tricky. With your skirt already pulled high on your waist, lean back and reach behind and hook the back of the spray skirt to the rim. Drag your elbows forward and across the skirt , positioning the sides. Reach forward to hook the front of the skirt to the cockpit rim. Adjust the sides last. Be sure you have the little loop on the front (the rip cord) freely outside the cockpit. Getting the skirt on can be frustrating, so don't be afraid to ask for help.

I've seen kayakers at the starting line of world championships ask for help putting on their spray skirt. It's simply an awkward maneuver that sometimes requires a little assistance. Hint - get the skirt wet first if it is tight.