Can You Use A Sit On Top Kayak In The Ocean?

There are several different types of kayaks available on the market. They differ in design, material, and their intended purpose. It’s normal to wonder whether it is possible to use a sit-on-top kayak in the ocean. 

Can You Use A Sit On Top Kayak In The Ocean?

The answer is a definite yes, but we emphasize that ocean kayaking is not easy, especially near the shore. If you are an inexperienced kayaker, it is wiser to use a sit-on-top kayak for the ocean. Sit-on kayaks are sealed, and if you capsize, they don’t fill with water. 

Ocean kayaking is a great pastime, and many ways to enjoy it as a hobby.

Some enjoy riding the surf. While others prefer to paddle along the shore past the waves, where they are likely to spot dolphins. Also, if you go further out, there is the opportunity to do some fishing. 

So let’s look at using a sit-on-top kayak for the ocean.

Using A Sit-On-Top Kayak In The Ocean

Kayaks have not always been tailored to such an array of experience levels. But nowadays, thanks to modern kayak designs, even those with minimal experience can enjoy taking kayaks out on the ocean. 

However, there are a few factors we need to consider before heading out on the water. We’ll discuss those later on in the article.

So as mentioned, If you have little to no experience when it comes to kayaking on the ocean then the notion of taking a sit-on-top one is actually a very good idea. This is because, if you capsize, which is far more likely on the ocean than a calm lake, it is far easier to climb back on and continue on.  

The ocean will drench you. But it is better than the alternative, which is that if you capsize with a sit-inside style kayak. It will fill with water and you will be left having to swim back to shore; with or without your kayak. So unless you are a seasoned kayaker and you have experience on the ocean, I recommend the SOT. 

Consider When You Are Going To Head Out 

The ocean has its good and bad days, and sometimes when you get to the beach you will notice that the surf is incredibly rough. Thankfully, there are forecasters for this, so you can check that before making your way down to the shore. If this is the case and the waves are over 2 to 3 feet, then perhaps consider going on an alternate day.

If you do decide to brave it though, do not merely rush into the water and paddle away. Instead, study the pattern of the waves and see how frequently they are coming. You will notice that they tend to come in sets of between 6 and 8; this is usually followed by a calmer period. This is when you’ll want to head out.  

A Life Jacket Is Essential Even With A Sit-On-Top

Regardless of the body of water, you find yourself kayaking on, whether that be a tranquil lake, or whitewater rapids, or the ocean, wearing a life jacket is mandatory. This is regardless of how well you can swim; because if you fall off you can just climb back on, you may get separated from your vessel. 

The ocean can be unpredictable, especially to those who do not know how to read the water, and if you get separated from your kayak out on the ocean, you can be in serious trouble very quickly.

So the simple act of wearing your life jacket will ensure that you are safe on the water.  

Launching Your Kayak Into The Ocean

Even though sit-on-top kayaks are far less susceptible to filling up with water, due to their designs, it does not mean that it is impossible. Before placing your kayak in the water, close the hatches tightly and screw the drain plug in properly.

This will prevent the kayak from taking on any water.

Next, you will need to get your kayak past the surf zone and this is the trickiest part of things. We highly recommend against launching (and landing) your kayak on a crowded beach.

This is because the waves can push the kayak into the people swimming on the beach. 

While making your way through the surf zone, be sure to hold tightly onto your kayak as you do not want a wave to pull it from your grasp. Depending on the type of conditions you’re facing and if you took the right window of opportunity, or not, getting through the surf zone can be quite a challenge. 

The best way to make the transition is to wade out to roughly waist-deep, where you are at least past the shore break.

As you are going, hold the kayak on the front handle and help lift it over the waves, so they pass underneath. Once you are out far enough, wait for a break and then jump on the kayak. 

Paddle quickly past the breaking surf, as a big wave can throw you off the kayak.

Once you have passed the breaking waves you can relax and enjoy your time on the water.  

Landing Your Kayak Back On The Shore

While out on the open water, if you do open any of the hatches, be extremely careful not to allow the kayak to flip, as it will cause the hull to fill up with water and you will be left with a long swim back to shore. 

When returning to shore, pick a landing spot free of beachgoers. This is because as you are paddling the back sides of the waves. You still run the risk of hitting an unsuspecting swimmer.

If caught in a wave, exit the vessel on the ocean side.

Once you are off your kayak and have made it past the waves, do be mindful to pull it far enough onto the shore to ensure that the water cannot pull it back into the surf. 

Final Word

So yes, in fact, it is possible to take a kayak out on the ocean. Most people will recommend this because if you fall off of your kayak. It will not fill with water and it is easy to get back onto again.

If you do opt for the sit-inside kayak there are thankfully options that have large bulkheads which limit the amount of water that can flood into the cockpit. 

However, with the sit-inside option, you need to know how to safely get back into the kayak, should it flip. 

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