Suwannee Adventures

‚ÄčStart by placing one end of the paddle across the deck of the kayak just aft of the cockpit. Stand in the right angle formed by the boat and the paddle. Rotate the paddle so that the extended blade can lay flat on the shore or the bottom. This may require extending the other blade just past the deck on the opposite side of the kayak if your paddle is feathered. Now, face forward, bend at the knees and grab the paddle with the thumbs facing backward and the fingers of the hand curling around the back of the cockpit. This will hold the paddle firmly to the kayak as you get in and provide support for the kayak from rolling over. If you must sit on something, make sure you put at least part of your butt onto the deck of the kayak. Never just sit on the paddle shaft. That is a sure invitation to disaster some day, either for you or for your paddle. 

With the paddle bracing between the kayak and the bottom or shore, lift the leg closest to the kayak and place it into the kayak. Keep the majority of your weight on the extended paddle side of the kayak. The tighter a grip you keep on the paddle and cockpit, the more sure the brace will be. Lower yourself into the cockpit by straightening the leg already in the cockpit. Slide your butt off the back deck and into the cockpit. If you have a large cockpit and can get your legs in and out when you are seated, let you butt drop into the bottom of the cockpit. The stability of the kayak will be much better if you can. Lift your other leg over the cockpit edge and place it into the cockpit. Get your paddle out from behind you and you are ready to seal the cockpit with your spray skirt. If you can not get your legs in one at a time while seated in the cockpit, you must place the second leg into the cockpit before the butt drops down into the seat. This will place more reliance on the support of your paddle while you make this final move. Start with the inside leg in the cockpit. Sit on the back edge of the cockpit Swing the other leg into the cockpit, leaning some of your weight onto the hand holding the paddle on the extended side.
Straighten both legs and get your butt into the bottom of the cockpit as quickly as possible. Bring the paddle around to the front and fasten your skirt. To exit the kayak, do everything in reverse.

Paddles are not iron bars and can not take the full weight of a body pressed down on them while bridging across the boat to the shore. The lighter the paddle the more careful you must be in using the paddle as a brace when entering and exiting.
The most common condition ( on these rivers ) is a launch or exit at a beach and you can stand easily on the bottom with the kayak floating in about one foot or less of water. Some of the kayak may even be resting on the bottom, either the bow or stern. The key to a stable boat is to use the paddle as a support to prevent the kayak from capsizing while you get into the kayak. 

Remember when starting to get in your kayak, kayaks have very little stability when your are getting in to them. Use your paddle to stabilize your kayak while you perform this maneuver. You will encounter many different situations where you need to get in and out of your kayak. We will cover some of them here.