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How to Empty Water out of The Kayak

How to Empty Water out of The Kayak

Learning how to empty water out of a kayak is a good skill to have if you plan on kayaking in rough waters. If you are planning on kayaking alone then it is a must to know how to empty the water in your kayak.

Solo Draining

Emptying a kayak full of water while you are in the water can be a daunting task to perform alone. A kayak full of water can be very heavy and feel even heavier when you are trying to keep yourself afloat. For this reason, it’s always good to first assess the situation before acting.

The first thing you should do is determine how much water is in your kayak and how far you are away from dry land.

If there is an excessive amount of water in your kayak then you might not want to overexert. Holding the bow of your and swimming it to shore might be an easier option than trying to drain in while swimming. If this is an option simply swim to dry land while pulling the kayak. Pull the kayak onto the shore then tip the kayak sideways to drain the water. This will probably have to be repeated several times before completely draining the kayak.

If this is not possible you can resort to emptying the water out of the kayak while swimming.

Step 1: Swim to the bow of the kayak and grab the bow with both hands.

Make sure to keep track of your paddle if you do not have a paddle tether. It would be unfortunate to succeed in emptying your kayak of water but then end up losing your paddle!

Step 2: Attempt to lift the kayak bow by kicking your legs and simultaneously using your arms and shoulders to lift the bow.

Once the cockpit is above the water then the kayak should start draining. If you have the strength you can even rock the kayak from side to side to empty more water out at once.

Step 3: Repeat until mostly drained.

It’s important to mention that this can essentially be done the opposite way by climbing onto the stern and allowing your body weight lift the kayak. This requires you to be a bit heavier but this technique is a viable alternative.

Step 4: Lift and flip the kayak right side up.

At this point the kayak should be mostly empty and ready for you to get back in. Once you are back in the kayak you can use a bilge pump to empty out the excess water. If you do not have a bilge pump we recommend purchasing one if you plan on kayaking in rough seas. It could save you a lot of time and energy and they’re pretty cheap.

Assisted Draining

Compared to solo draining assisted draining requires much less work as long as there isn’t too much water in your kayak.

Step 1: Have the kayak assisting paddle to your location so that their kayak’s bow is perpendicular to your kayak’s bow.

Step 2: Slide your kayak on top of the kayak assisting enough so that the cockpit comes out of the water.

Step 3: Flip the kayak away from the kayaker assisting.

Although this technique requires less effort, keep in mind that in rough water it is possible that this technique could cause the other kayak to capsize. It’s important to keep the kayak steady if you are the one helping. Otherwise, you will make the other person’s life very difficult and can even put them in harm’s way.


If you’ve ever been out at sea then you know there are times where ocean waves can be unpredictable. It only takes one unexpected wave to capsize your kayak and have you in the freezing water out at sea. Once this happens you are prone to hypothermia and other dangers if you are not correctly outfitted.

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Author: Peter SalisburyPete is the Owner of KayakHelp.com. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him skiing in the mountains, reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.

Welcome! I’m so glad you are here :-) I’m Pete. I am the owner of KayakHelp.com. I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When I am not out on the water, you can find me skiing in the mountains, reading my favorite books, and spending time with my family.