How to lift your yak!

Were I a bettin’ woman, I’d wager that the single-most frequently asked question I hear regarding kayaking isn’t always presented in question form; rather, it skulks through conversation, coming up as allusions.  Other times – especially at put-ins when I show up solo – folks’ll just shake their heads and flat out ask something akin to, “How the heck are you gonna get that thing off/on your car by yourself?!”  Sometimes I just smile, shrug my shoulders grin.  Other times, especially if the question is asked with genuine interest, I’ll share my version of handling the boat when it’s on dry land.

My basic answer is, as with anything in life, technique.  While more than a few of you gentlemen types have no issue at all simply reaching across the cockpit of a boat and strong-arming it to your shoulder from flat off the ground, we women generally find that quite the challenge.  Personally, I have more success by thinking outside the box and finessing the task.  So how exactly do I pick up my Journey?  By standing/halfway squatting near the middle of the cockpit, rolling the deck away from me, and then pulling it up on my thighs.  From there, I reach across to grab the coaming with one hand and finally, I simply pop it up to my shoulder.

To better explain, I enlisted the help of a videographer friend so that you can see different angles of the whole process of how I pick up my boat.  We’ll cover how I load it in another post!



Am I saying that the way I pick up a kayak will work for everyone?  Not at all.  I’m merely sharing what works for me.  I talk with and hear tell of too many folks who let fear of picking up and loading a boat solo keep them off the water.  Hopefully, this will help ease the hesitancy for some folks, and I’ll meet more of you on the water!

Regardless of how you pick up your boat to get it to and from the water, here’s wishing you and yours happy and safe boating!


Huge thanks to Zachary Cross for his time, camera equipment and editing skills.  Still shots I’m good with, but I can promise that you wouldn’t want to see anything I tried to video/edit!!


Comments on “How to lift your yak!”

  1. Tony Dyrsmid
    April 14, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Thanks that is great information. At 76 it ain’t getting any easier.

  2. Stephen
    April 17, 2014 at 10:31 am

    At least now I might be able to save the OTHER shoulder!

  3. John
    April 18, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    That’s fine for a sit-inside, but how would you handle a heavy sit-on-top like a Coosa? I constantly have trouble loading my Coosa on top of a small SUV — it’s not only heavy (OK, I admit I’m old and weak) but also seems extremely awkward, with no good way to get a good grip on the thing. Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. April 25, 2014 at 11:51 pm

      John, I find the best way to load kayaks over head is as follows. Pull kayak up beside vehicle. Lift one end and turn the boat upside down. Walk your hands down the side until the boat is standing vertical. Grip the side handles and let the wait of the nose fall, thereby lifting the back. You will now have the boat balanced over head, providing you don’t have any rigging on it. If you can’t handle that weight, you will need to add a roller to the rear of your rack system, or get a bar extender that allows you to lift one end at a time. Hope this helps.

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