Kayak Self Rescue
Re-entering and Towing a Kayak
Kayak self rescue are advanced techniques that are learned and practiced often. With proper instruction and practice, if capsized, you should be able to upright and re-enter your kayak, bail it out and if necessary, tow it.
The following is simply an overall explanation of these topics to introduce you to the concept only.
I've included a couple of very good videos. They demonstrate kayak self rescue techniques with and without the use of a paddle float, how to upright a kayak and how to re-enter a kayak. They also show the importance of a paddle float and a bilge pump. To view them, click here.
How to Upright an Overturned Kayak - this is something that takes skill and patience . . .
- First, place your body across the beam of the hull - with your arms on one side, your feet on the other
- Place your feet at approximately body width apart on one edge
- Place your hands a bit wide apart on the other side and grab the rim (or as close to it as you can)
- On the count of three . . . with all your strength - push down with your feet while pulling the cockpit rim to "flip it" until the kayak turns. This usually takes a few tries.
Now You're Upright, But Its Swamped! What to do?
If you have added kayak flotation to the fore and aft of your kayak - this will be easier. A solo kayaker can re-enter using a paddle float - (an inflatable or foam cushion attached to one of the paddle blades) to stabilize the kayak and provide assistance. The swimmer kicks to propel themself onto the deck - using the paddle for stability - then re-enters the cockpit - grabs the hand pump and bails out the water. An assisted rescue utilizes a second kayak for stabilization instead of a paddle float.
TIP: To learn more about paddle floats, float lines, paddle leashes, hand pumps and other safety equipment click
Here's How To Tow a Kayak -
If you cannot re-enter the cockpit - you will need to tow it. For the purpose of towing another paddler ... carry a float line, about 20 feet in length with you. It helps to have "clips" on the ends, but they're not required.
If you or a partner capsizes, you will need to first upright the kayak (as described above) then bail as much water out of it that you can with a hand pump.
Fasten the tow line to one end of the kayak (preferably the bow) and clip or tie the other end around your waist. Since you cannot tow your partner inside the swamped kayak, they will have to
swim along side holding onto the back of your kayak.
A slack line over the back of your kayak can assist a fatigued swimmer.
Now this will be slow going - but you will get to shore.
Kayak Self rescue and towing techniques are fun to practice with a partner - preferably in shallow water and on a hot day!
Finally, I will repeat myself, kayaking self rescue techniques are learned and practiced with instruction when you enroll in a kayaking class.
After learning the kayaking basics, if this looks like the kind of fun you want to have, find a kayaking class in your area that teaches self and assisted rescue. You can find one right here.
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