Whenever a kayaker flips over and manages to get out of the kayak while still in the water, this is known as Wet Exit.
This is perhaps the most basic and mandatory skill. Most beginners often get scared and think about how dangerous it might be to get stuck underwater while your body is inside the cockpit.
Good news, it is not as scary as it may initially look. On average, a kayaker takes about 3-5 seconds to move out of the water and complete the wet exit. Most of us can hold the breath for that long.
Why Is It Vital to Master Wet Exit?
Kayaking is all about water, you would spend hours surfing on different kind of streams. It is but obvious that you may end up losing your balance and tip over in water frequently. If you learn this skill during early days, it will be easier to learn difficult skills like kayak rolls. The wet exit is the first step for yak rolls, and if you are comfortable doing it, you can do pretty much everything in surfing. This basically removes the fear of the students who are still in the early stages.
Learning the Wet Exit
The first thing is to make sure you protect your head, and to do that you need to lean as close to the deck as possible. Tuck your body towards the cockpit, and this will help your head from smashing against the rocks or other underwater obstacles. Your helmet and PDF (Personal Floatation Device) will also ensure extra protection. Besides, leaning towards the deck provides a better opportunity to grab the loop of your spray skirt.
Another critical aspect to keep in mind is to try to feel the loop while underwater. You cannot rely on finding the loop of spray skirt by seeing it. The best kayaking coaches will always tell you to lean forward and feel the loop. That is your best bet.
Practicing the Wet Exit
There are different approaches to practicing the Wet Exit. Many coaches will tell you to practice on the bank first and then in water. Basically, you learn the steps by sitting in the kayaking position and repeating the wet exit steps before you actually start doing them underwater. It makes more sense as you develop the reflexes by repetitive actions.
Another excellent approach is to learn wet exit without a spray skirt first and then to use the spray skirt. At the end of the day, you need to learn how to get out safely when you are capsized underwater.
Wet Exit With Spray Skirts
Here are a few steps of learning wet exit with spray skirts.
- Get into the boat with the spray skirt on. Make sure the grab loop is out. Preferably at a safe place near to shore.
- The water should not be deep and not too shallow either. A range of 4 to 5 feet is advisable.
- Remember to take a deep breath before you flip over. Start looking for the loop of spray skirt. Remember, the feeling it is better than trying to see underwater. Once you find the grab loop. Pull it and move away from the cockpit rim.
- Next, you need to push the boat with your knees hard enough to move out of the kayak into the water.
- Lastly, pull out and reach to the shore, empty your boat, and make sure you are relaxed.
- Repeat this as often as you can, under someone’s supervision to avoid any mishap, and you should be ready to learn other tricks like rolls pretty soon.
While wet exit looks like a complicated technique at first, it is not that difficult if appropriately learned. You must practice under adequate supervision, a coach, or a friend who knows a thing or two about kayaking can help.
There is no reason to be afraid of being stuck upside down underwater. The designs of the boats are meant for easy exit. The boats literally throw you out themselves. Mastering the technique of Wet Exit will boost your confidence, and eventually, you will enjoy the real fun of surfing and simply being underwater without any fear.