Wooden Kayaks and Concrete Launch Areas?

Hi All,

I am fairly new to kayaking and have casually kayaked on maybe 10 occasions. I am considering building a wooden kayak, but had a question about launching the boats into the water.

I will have access to a few concrete launch areas and I am concerned about how to launch a wooden kayak without damaging it. Below is an example of a concrete launch ramp. How would I go about launching the wooden kayak? Would I simply step out 10 or so feet into the water so that the kayak is free floating and then step in? Should I allow extra inches, e.g. 6 inches, to account for my body weight? Also, if I do hit the bottom of one of the Chesapeake Light Craft boats into the concrete ramp (or even into rocks while paddling), will the boat suffer much damage? Or, since the boat is entirely covered in epoxy, will this be sufficient enough to protect from scrapes and dings?

Many thanks, 


8 replies:

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RE: Wooden Kayaks and Concrete Launch Areas?

When I was in the boundary water with the scouts it was there policy to have feet wet before you entered the canoe.  I would say go with the same principle and get in when the boat is floating.  I have noticed most of the concrete launches to be extremely slippery and I try to put in on the side from the grass.

RE: Wooden Kayaks and Concrete Launch Areas?

I get my boat fully afloat before getting in from the rear. I was actually surprised at how little water it takes  to float my kayak. As garret says, there is often a grass or sand area near boat ramps that might be "milder" to your boat's bottom.

RE: Wooden Kayaks and Concrete Launch Areas?

I launch from concrete ramps regularly with my WoodDuck.  I set the kayak in the water about 2 feet down the ramp from the waters edge and parallel to the waters edge.  Put one foot in the cockpit then sit on the rear deck just behind the cockpit and swing the other leg in while gently nudging out away from the ramp so I dont drift back into the concrete, then lower my butt into the cockpit.  You can have your paddle tethered to the yak or the WD has such a big cockpit I just have it stored in the cockpit while I get in. 

 The boat only sits into the water 3-4 inches so youre safe with water only half way up to your knees to start from. 

 IF you do bump the concrete it really wont hurt anything but the cosmetics, maybe scratch the paint or varnish.  I just got my first paint scratch last week and it actually came from a grassy edge launch having a hidden rock not the concrete ramps.  Docks work OK too but most are too high up from the water level since they are made for bigger boats and are actually more difficult than concrete ramps.   Varnish seems to hold up better than paint. 

I've had it out 5 times now and only have one scratch on the bottom so it will take a long time before I get enough of them to justify recoating.

RE: Wooden Kayaks and Concrete Launch Areas?

I launch my kayaks, wooden and SOF from concrete pads all the time.  I do try to push them out into the water a bit to help prevent direct full-weight scraping but other than that no problem.


RE: Wooden Kayaks and Concrete Launch Areas?

All the above suggestions are good.  I find that I have gotten some good scratches, just setting the boat on the conc. ramp while getting organized (pfd on, skirt on, etc.)  By far the best defence against this or grounding is to coat the bottom with epoxy and graphite.  See other posts here on that subject.  the scratch issue will just go away.  So, build yourself a boat and have some fun.


RE: Wooden Kayaks and Concrete Launch Areas?

Launching the boat while floating is a great idea to help keep the bottom from getting scratched, but it does take a bit of practice if you've got a tippier model (having ended up in the water more than once myself!)  It really helps if you have the person you're paddling with help stabilize the boat, especially in waves. One person can help hold one of the boats while the first paddler eners, then raft up with the second boat to stabilize it while the second person enters.  I have a good pair of neoprene booties for cold weather so I don't mind getting my feet in the water.  

You can also just accept that you built the boat to use and the bottom will inevitably get scratched even if you're careful.  I've got 2 seasons of use on mine and it has some scratches on the bottom, but they don't bother me.  Most people see the top and are distracted by how nice it looks and don't see the bottom. Besides, I'm sure their plastic or fiberglass kayak has scratches on the bottom too!

Just a note on durability: my Shearwater has gotten dropped onto concrete from about waist height (twice) and has held up fine - a scrape/ding where it hit, but no serious damage.  The boats are quite durable.  Bashing it onto sharp rocks isn't the best idea, but remember that you built it and you can fix it if something really bad happens.  

Like Paul said, build one and have fun!


RE: Wooden Kayaks and Concrete Launch Areas?

Excellent info! Thanks all!

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