Reentry and Roll
by Jay Babina

For most paddlers who have been paddling a while, the kayak reentry of choice is unanomously the Reentry and Roll. Unlike a paddle float reentry which actually requires a lot of skill and is time consuming, the R & R is fast, efficient and basically effortless.

The purpose of the reentry and roll is to get you out of the water and seated in your boat in an upright position. Ideally, we want to reenter the kayak with the least skill needed and to be underwater as little as possible.

1. After a capsize, hold on to your paddle and boat. Leave the kayak upside down until you get in position on your preferred side of the kayak. If it’s windy, an empty kayak can blow out of reach whereas an inverted kayak will not. After flipping the boat over to it’s normal floating position, the paddler places his feet in the cockpit which holds the boat. You want to be on your favored side of the cockpit to execute a roll. If you normally set up on the left side of the kayak, you would want to be floating on the right side with your feet in the cockpit. At this time a paddle float can be attached to the paddle and blown up. If you’re a competent roller, you would simply bypass the paddle float. If it’s not too rough, you may choose to take out the pump and put it under the bungees if it is stored in the cockpit. This holding position also makes it easy to put on nose plugs or a hood if desired while still holding the boat and paddle.

2. The paddle is placed across the far side of the cockpit and held in the same hand that holds that side of that coaming. You will be forced to roll the kayak on to it’s side to do this. If you’re using a feathered Euro paddle, pay attention to the blade orientation and position it how you like to use it for a roll with the power face up.

3. Grab the coaming with both hands. Your far hand has the paddle across the boat as well. Start pulling yourself into the cockpit. As you do this, you will get partially in and the kayak will start to slowly roll over as your torso weight pulls you down and under water.

4. Pull yourself all the way into the boat. I go past the foot pegs and don’t waste time trying to position my feet on them. It actually helps to go past the seat and come back so you don’t sit on the backband. You will now be in a rolling setup position upside down underwater.
Sweep the paddle out and roll up in any style that you know how,,, or you can scull up as well if you know the technique. If you’re an absolute beginner, you could even extend the paddle/paddle float out fully holding the blade for the extra leverage. (Without the paddle float, I can execute the complete R & R from beginning to end in about 8 seconds.)

You now find yourself upright except you have a cockpit full of water. Take a few seconds to brace and regain your composure as well as check out the sea conditions around you. Don’t assume your first chore is to pump out the boat once you complete the roll - you still have plenty of mobility. Practice paddling with your boat full of water! It’s very easy and not that unstable. In most cases it’s wiser to paddle to a quiet area where you can pump it out safetly or even in to shore. Obviously, you are not going to pump out the boat in the surf area and you will have to paddle that boat full of water out to where they are not breaking. You can make a choice on the spray skirt considering the water conditions and wether you want to deal with giving up your hands on the paddle.

After you do a R & R, the cockpit does have a lot of water but you are still able to brace, paddle and balance. If you are getting hit with large breaking waves, it can fill the cockpit to the lip, and then your stability will be greatly decreased. This is why the spray skirt is still a consideration even after an R & R.

Outer-Island Kayak