Flip Your Kayak

What To Do If You Flip Your Kayak

It is fall and there are more and more kayaks on the water, but all are not created equal. It seems that many companies are recognizing the demand and offering all shapes and sizes in an effort to give consumers the most affordable options. This is great for people looking to get their feet wet, but it can also lead to your entire body immersed!  

Before I get assaulted, I am not saying that one kayak over the other is more likely to get you wet; I know guys who have flipped a Hobie PA14 (one of the more stable kayaks on the market) by getting too comfortable with its stability. It is just a fact that with this many kayaks on the water, there are going to be folks ending up in the water this fall.  The key – be prepared.

Wear Your PFD

First (and the most important), wear your lifejacket. Let me say that again… wear your lifejacket 

The only time I have gone over, or under water, I was on the ramp. The first was getting in a kayak, then recently I slipped on a ramp and slid under some kayaks – but had on my life jacket so made it back to shore with no issues.  

I pass a lot of people sitting on their life jackets or with them tied to the kayak. Once you flip, your stuff scatters creating a debris field and making it hard to get everything back… that life jacket goes with it if not attached to you. Please wear it.

Don’t have one? Check out these kayak fishing PFD options and do yourself a favor.

Here Are Some Other Tips For When You Flip Your Kayak  

1.  Don’t panic. It will be ok (since you have your lifejacket on!). Take a deep breath, assess where you are, then look for your boat. If it is a sit-on-top, it should be floating. If it is a sit-in-side, it may be filled with water, but the plastic will still keep it somewhat buoyant.  

2. If you are in shallow water – just stand up. You didn’t panic, so by now you know you can touch the bottom. If not, try to move your boat close to shore. 

Both of these may not be an option.  

There are times you will need to re-board the kayak to get back to shore. I am going to assume that like most, you haven’t thought about that as a task that may happen, so you didn’t practice it. So, the real tip #2; practice getting back in your kayak. Google videos on methods to gain entry to the kayak from the water; then try them. This is an excellent video by Jeff Little showing how to re-board.   

3. Consider what matters most to you. It sucks losing your stuff, it can be costly and painful to replace; but it is just stuff. Make the priority you. Once you have landed back in your kayak, you can track down the items you lost – or maybe not – but either way, you are safe. 

A side tip to this one – lanyards. Lanyards allow you to attach all items you brought with you to the kayak. So, when you get that back, your stuff is all connected. Dry bags will also help keep your phone and keys safe – if you use them. But again, you are what matters. Get to safety first, then worry about your stuff.

There is no good time to flip your kayak. But if there was, a day when you left the ramp in shorts and flip flops is much better than when you are bundled up during the winter months when the water temp is low. (please read this article too – cold weather kayaking). 

 If you are going out for the first time, try to do it when the weather is nice, the water temp is warm and the wind is laying down. Always watch the weather, always let someone know where you are going… and always wear the lifejacket. Getting your kayak and gear will go so much better for you with that PFD attached to your body (correctly) and not floating away with the wind or current.

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Mike Cheatham


May 2016, sat in my first kayak. October 2016, skunked in my first tournament. Spring of 2017, placed 11th in the KBF Open and have chased the addiction since. Fishing is the one place my mind gets quiet, the place I have always found peace. To do it competitively with a great bunch of folks is just a bonus. To have an opportunity to combine my love for fishing with writing...I feel like I have finally found a place in this world! I do have the support of a wonderful woman who understands my need to be on the water; she supports my dreams fully....life is truly good.

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