Why Does Water Get in my Kayak ?

Kayaking is a joyful experience. It is a sport and a leisure activity at the same time. People paddle down the serene rivers and lakes, enjoying the natural beauty. Or the adventurous ones prefer the white water experience and the associated adrenaline rush. Kayakers just love the time they spend in a kayak. At the same time, no one likes water in their kayaks. You may wonder why water gets into your kayak.

Water gets into your kayak for several reasons. This can be because your kayak has worn-out parts, like old hatchet gaskets, or there are loose deck fittings. Furthermore, water also seeps in due to a damaged hull, through scupper holes or due to holes in your spray skirt. Finally, you may scoop in water due to your use of a wrong paddle or incorrect paddling techniques.


However, do note that since kayaking is a water sport, it is ok if you have a little water inside your kayak.

It is important to know why water getting inside your kayak. It could indicate a potentially dangerous situation. If you are taking in water every time and in large amounts, you will do better to track its root cause. If you are facing this problem in your kayak for the first time, this article is for you. Read on to know more about the topic. This article will be useful for both the newbie and the experienced kayaker.

Types of kayaks

There are two types of kayaks.


  • One is a sit-on-top kayak and
  • The other is a sit-in kayak.


In a sit-on-top kayak, the kayaker sits on a kayak with a seat on it. They have some space ahead of them to rest their legs. In a sit-in kayak, the kayakers house themselves inside the kayak and cover their lower part with a spray skirt. This does not allow the water to go inside the kayak.

The sit-on-top kayak is mainly for beginners and leisure kayakers. The sit-in kayak is for more serious kayakers.

Water in a sit-on-top kayak

Water gets in a sit-on-top kayak due to several reasons. Here are a few pointers to find its cause:

Check the hull for cracks

This is the first step that you should take while inspecting your kayak for water coming in. Your kayak may have developed a crack or a hole at the bottom. If you find one, take it to a pro shop for repair and maintenance.

Leaky hatches

Every kayak has hatches. They are sealed with caps and gaskets. If the cap is cracked or the gasket is worn out, you will get water inside your kayak. If it is a minor abrasion, consider using a good quality marine sealant. If the gasket of the cap has worn out, it will be better to replace it with a new one. Always use good quality parts to replace the worn-out ones.

Examine the rudder lines

It is good to check the rudder lines as a loose rudder line will allow water seepage. Use a waterproof sealant if the line is loose.

Loose deck fittings

If you find that your deck fittings are loose, tighten them. Use a screwdriver, a hatchet, or any other relevant tool to tighten any loose joints. Additionally, as a precautionary measure, you can use a good quality, water-proof adhesive to seal the joints. This will increase the life of the parts. If the joints keep getting loose repeatedly, the holes for the nuts and bolts may eventually get bigger and worn out.

Check the scupper holes

The scupper holes are a safety feature in kayaks. They drain out excess water. If they are clogged, clean them. On the flip side, scupper holes during water splashes allow more water to get it than drain out. This is true if you are using your kayak in white waters. To avoid water from coming in, use scupper plugs. If you are already using scupper plugs, check if any of them have become loose or worn out. Replace them or refit those using marine grade sealants.

Check for loose drainage plug

The drainage plug should be tightly screwed in. Open it and check. The threading should be prominent and the washers should be firm. Refit it in the kayak and put some water over it to see if it is leaking. If the leak is minor, use a waterproof sealant to rectify the situation. If it is a major damage, consider replacing it.

Water in a sit-in kayak

Sit in kayaks usually don’t have a water problem. The kayakers wear a spray skirt to avoid water from coming in. Apart from the general points of the previous sections, check your spray skirt. If it has holes in it, water will seep into your kayak. It is better to invest in a good spray skirt than to repair the old one. The repaired holes just keep coming back.

Paddles and paddling techniques


Water gets inside your kayak while you paddle the waters. Here are a few of the relevant points:

Use a better kayak paddle

Kayak paddles have grooves in them for better paddling. Though it improves the water displacement, the grooves scoop up water when the paddle side leaves the water. This water is poured onto you. You can either use any other paddle or install drip rings on your paddle. The drip rings arrest any water coming down the paddle rod keeping you dry. You can also try DIY drip rings from old plastic bottles.

Use longer paddles

With shorter paddles, you tend to paddle at a higher angle. This brings more water into the kayak. Use a bigger-sized paddle to avoid this scenario. Also, review your paddling technique with a pro.



Though it is all right to have small amounts of water in your kayak, always have an eye for large quantities of it. We hope that our discussion will help you zero down any water leaks in your kayak and help you take necessary action at the earliest. Happy kayaking!

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