Outdoors blog


Will a Kayak Sink If Filled with Water?

A kayak will not sink if filled with water but they can become swamped and be very difficult to move. A sit on top type will not swamp or sink.

Kayak is a type of Canoe used for water sports and recreation. They are commonly referred to as ‘yaks’ and can carry maximum of 2 to 3 people.

They are designed to be maneuvered using a paddle that has a blade at either end. A sit-inside kayak can sink if filled with water, while sit-on-top Kayak is considered unsinkable. The fact that sit on top Kayak can not sink is a boon for people who can’t swim, but want to go kayaking and paddle their way through the different stream of rivers. When water enters the vessel and or it burdened with too much weight, it is usually considered as swamped and can be bailed out easily.


Types of Kayaks 

Kayaks are primarily of two types. Traditional sit-inside Kayak has an open cockpit and allows paddlers to sit inside. Moving in and out of this yak is a bit restrictive, and paddlers may take some time to adjust. If the load on board is too high and the hull is not sealed or has bulkheads, chances of sinking increase significantly.

On the other hand, the more contemporary sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks designed to allow paddlers to sit on top of the vessel. Since they are not enclosed, people can quickly move in and out of yak, making it much more comfortable than sit-inside-kayaks. SOT kayaks are designed with scupper holes, which makes them literally unsinkable.

Understanding the Stability

While buying kayaks, paddlers often have to consider the type of stability they need. There are two types of stability in kayaks. Primary and Secondary. Primary stability is how kayaks feel in flat water. Secondary stability, on the other hand, is about how it feels in rough water.

A kayak with primary stability will make you feel in control in flat water, but as soon as you enter the harsh waves, the boat may become unstable. In contrast, a Kayak with secondary stability will make you tippy on flat water and in command when you are in rough water. So It’s wise to choose as per your specific need.

How to Avoid Kayak from Sinking

Kayaks are meant for recreation and if it happens to turn upside down for some reason. It isn’t a pleasant experience. Moreover, if extra load and water enter the vessel cause it to swamp, it can also be dangerous. Here are a few points that can help you avoid any mishaps.

Stay Within the Load Capacity

Most Kayak comes with clear capacity instructions. It is up to the paddlers to follow the rules. Try to stick to the 50-75 rule. It means the load on the vessel, including your gears and other accessories, should be between the range of 50% to 75% of the allowed limit. The lighter the boat, the best chances of recovering from a flip.



Use of Spray Skirt and Spray Covers

A spray skirt is a cockpit cover that the paddler wear around the waist, it is attached to the cockpit and helps keep the water out. If the Kayaks have a large cockpit, they usually provide spray covers that work in the same way as spray skirts; however, paddlers don’t need to wear them.


Inspect Frequently and Repair If Needed

Before you step out, make sure you are inspecting your vessels for any wear and tear. Make it a habit of frequent inspection as the vessel takes a huge toll every time it enters the harsher waves. Make sure you fix the issues as soon as you notice them. At times minor scratches or bumps can aggravate and make the vessel cut into half during surfing, perhaps the only way to make it actually sink.


Never Ignore Wobbling or Instability

Instability is the first sign that there is something wrong with the Kayak, be it sit-inside-kayak or SOT. If you notice frequent wobble and instability while kayaking, do not ignore it. Make sure you get the vessel checked out thoroughly.


We now know that the Kayaks can sink. However, it can be easily prevented. While SOT is designed in such a way that they cannot sink. The Sit-Inside-Kayaks are also pretty safe as long as we keep them light and take necessary precautions. Always remember kayaking is all about staying afloat.

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