Disabled Kayak Paddler Launch Method for Artificial Hip

Gail E. Ferris




The beginning of this page is about my method of launching and the latter part is a series of photos illustrating exactly stage by stage how Lars Jensen who has an artificial hip in Kullorsuaq Greenland launches his kayak.

I was informed following my hip replacement that a kayak paddler with an artificial hip cannot sustain any independent twisting on his legs during getting in or out of his kayak.  Such twisting will possibly cause subluxation or displacement thereby rendering permanent damage to the hip joint.  The moment of launching is the easiest time for this to happen.


I have very faithfully utilized this basic method of launching from the beach since my hip was replaced.  I align my kayak parallel with the beach with the hull fully afloat under my full body weight.  I place the paddle behind me across the lip of the cockpit on the stern deck.  I sit on the paddle shaft firmly grasping the paddle shaft and the stern cockpit lip simultaneously.  I lean toward the beach so that my kayak paddle is solidly resting on the beach throughout the period of launch instability.  I pick up one leg outboard from the beach and slide my leg into the cockpit fully extended.  Next I pick the other leg and slide it into the cockpit fully extended.


I slide my body down into the seat and bring my paddle forward in front of me ready to paddle.

This method can be altered for launching from rocks and docks.  The most important aspect of this launching method is that my legs have to be inserted into the cockpit with no independent twisting of my legs during launching.


When I had my hip replaced the surgeon told me that the most dangerous activity I could engage in would be to paddle a kayak.  Lars Jensen a Greenlander also has an artificial hip yet he goes out hunting Narwhal in his kayak.  He uses this same launching technique.


I had a situation where the only place I could make a landing was on rocks in large swells. I had to disembark I found one of my legs caught in the cockpit.  I allowed myself to fall into the water.  From the water I was able to free my entangled foot and rescue myself



Lars Jensen preparing to launch in Kullorsuaq, he has an artificial hip.



Lars kayak is on the flat smooth granite he is just stepping into the cockpit note his paddle is on the rock to stabilize and across the bow deck note the position of his hands and that he is leaning on his paddle just as he is stepping off the rock.  The kayak is not quite floating.



You can see that Lars is just transferring his weight from his left foot to his right foot in the cockpit but his weight is distributed as a tripod over his arms to his paddle on the deck.



Now Lars is lifting his left leg up over the cockpit lip while maintaining his stability through his two arms pushing down with his hands firmly holding his paddle and his third point of his stance is through his right leg he is standing on.



Note Lars has placed his right foot and is bringing beside it his left foot he is actually distributing his balance over his arms not over his right leg where you can see his knee is slightly bent.  He is keeping the kayak level by using his arms.  His right leg is just placed in the cockpit on his seat.  All this time his body weight is fully over his hands.



Now you see that Lars is starting to slide his left leg forward and his right leg is crossed being in the center of the seat over the keel.



Here Lars is bending his right leg on the far side and is slipping his left leg farther forward as he is starting to lower himself.



Now you see that on the far side Lars right leg is bent more than 90 degrees and his left leg is straight out in front of him.  I would guess that he has a prosthetic left hip.



Lars weight is now on the rear deck and cockpit lip.  He has enough room to start extending right leg.  His left knee is rubbing on the edge of the cockpit.  His weight is completely on the rear deck.



Both legs are straightened out and he is wriggling his forward body into the cockpit.



Lars is wriggling into the cockpit shifting his weight forward onto his arms off his buttocks.



Lars body is wriggling from side to side as he is shifting downward into the cockpit.



Lars is fully in the cockpit.  He is sitting on a piece of caribou fir as his seat which only slightly elevates him off the hull bottom and keel about half to three quarters of an inch..



Now Lars is launching off the rock floating the hull by leaning his body weight aft and pushing off the rock with his paddle.  He is using just a gentle push so as to not mar the hull skin.



Lars kayak is now fully afloat.  Note the shape and length of this paddle.  This is the long fan shaped paddle common to northern Upernavik Commune, Tasiusaq and Kullorsuaq.


Kaalaraq Bech getting into his kayak note his hand is on rock he is in a Greenland traditional sealskin covered kayak wearing his twilig.

Gail Ferris preparing to launch from Upernavik in 1993.


Gail Ferris